Chapter

Ecosystems Theory

Human Behavior in the Social Environment

  1. Mark A. Mattaini

Published Online: 15 JUL 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470373705.chsw002015

Comprehensive Handbook of Social Work and Social Welfare

Comprehensive Handbook of Social Work and Social Welfare

How to Cite

Mattaini, M. A. 2008. Ecosystems Theory. Comprehensive Handbook of Social Work and Social Welfare. 2:12.

Author Information

  1. University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work, Chicago, Illinois, US

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2008

Abstract

The ecosystems perspective in social work emerged in the 1970s from two bodies of scientific theory, General Systems Theory and ecological theory. The available research suggests that social workers often did and do fail to notice essential variables and transactional realities in their cases, including patterns of domination and oppression. There is also evidence that the ecosystems perspective can be of use in minimizing such errors. The perspective has until now been used primarily as a heuristic or metaphoric tool, with little thought of or reference to its scientific roots. Ecosystemic thinking grounded in scientific rigor, as outlined here, may have the potential to greatly expand the impact and utility of the perspective.

Keywords:

  • ecosystems perspective;
  • General Systems Theory;
  • ecological perspective;
  • ecobehavioral social work;
  • social justice