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Human Ecology Theory Bubolz M M Sontag M S 1993 Human ecology theory In P G Boss W J Doherty R LaRossa W R Schumm S K Steinmetz Eds Sourcebook of family theories and methods A contextual approach pp 419448 New York Plenum Press Basic Premises Families interact with their environment to form an ecosystem Families carry out the following for the good of itself as well as the good of society biological sustenance economic maintenance psychosocial and nurturance functions All peoples of the world are interdependent on the resources of the earth there is a balance between cooperation and integration in the ecosystem with demands of the individual for autonomy and freedom Dr Ronald J Werner Wilson Assumptions Families and the environment are interdependent Families are part of the total life system so they are interdependent with other forms of life Adaptation is a continuing process in families They can respond change develop and act on and modify their environment All parts of the environment are interrelated and influence each other Families interact with multiple environments Families require matter energy Dr Ronald J Werner Wilson Assumptions cont Interactions between families and environments are guided by two sets of rules Physical and biological laws of nature e g laws of thermodynamics Human derived rules e g social norms Environments do not determine human behavior but pose limitations and constraints as well as possibilities and opportunities for families Decision making is the central control process in families that directs actions for attaining individual and family goals Dr Ronald J Werner Wilson Underlying Values Survival maintenance and sustainability are important features of life Four great virtues that contribute to the ultimate good economic adequacy justice freedom peacefulness Other virtues that contribute to the quality of life health education and learning loving and nurturing relationships productive work and work environments experiences and symbolic systems that sustain meaning and a sense of community beauty trustworthiness Dr Ronald J Werner Wilson Underlying Values cont Scholars and practitioners acting on these values are expected to attend to the problems of groups and subcultures who lack power self determination and access to resources Humans should be responsible to other living species and the nonliving environment Dr Ronald J Werner Wilson Consistency Between Family Ecology and Feminist Theory Hermeneutic post positivism and critical science perspectives are necessary to gain valid knowledge and bring about change Recognition of a plurality of family forms Acknowledge the importance of sociohistorical and cultural context and environment Dr Ronald J Werner Wilson Summary of the Main Problems or Questions How do families function and adapt to assure survival improvement of quality of life and sustain natural resources How do families allocate and manage resources to meet the needs of individuals and the family as a group How does environmental e g meso exo and macrosystems change influence human development How can families and family professional contribute to the process of positive change What should be done to enhance the quality of life while conserving the environment Dr Ronald J Werner Wilson Figure 17 1 Family Ecosystem Family Human Built Environment Social Cultural Environment Natural Physical Biological Environment Dr Ronald J Werner Wilson Human Ecological Concepts Human ecosystem Interaction between humans and their natural environment including physical biological social cultural and human built Family ecosystem family system interacting with its environment see Figure 17 1 Environment totality of surroundings and context Surroundings include physical biological social economic political aesthetic and structural Dr Ronald J Werner Wilson Human Ecological Concepts cont Adaptation Behavior of living systems including families that changes the state or structure of the system the environment or both Adaptation is recursive humans adapt to environment and change it Dr Ronald J Werner Wilson Family Ecological Concepts Family Inclusive definition Includes persons related by blood marriage or adoption Also includes sets of interdependent but independent persons who share common goals common resources and a commitment to each other Family members are simultaneously autonomous and dependent Needs requirements for survival e g sustenance Values Human conceptions about what is good right and worthwhile They are an integral part of family processes Management comprehensive process to meet goals and realize values Dr Ronald J Werner Wilson Family Ecological Concepts cont Decision making Central cybernetic control system of family organization The decision making process involves recognition of the need to make a decision identification evaluation and comparison of alternatives choice of alternative Human development Ongoing process of interrelated change in ability to perceive conceptualize and act Development is dynamic Development usually leads to greater levels of sophistication Quality of human life extent to which basic needs are met and values realized synonymous with well being Quality of the environment capacity for supplying human and non human resources and capacity for sustaining life and the nonhuman environment Dr Ronald J Werner Wilson Limitations of the Theory Are systems concepts compatible with family ecology theory Are mechanistic or biological principles generalizable to human and family systems Is it too broad and inclusive New constructs may create confusion or redundancy Are the concepts too abstract Dr Ronald J Werner Wilson


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