Social work as a profession has its own history of responding to the need of the society and the environment with its own tools and techniques. Today it is a much more dynamic and a scientific process with a lot more understanding of the socioeconomic and political dynamics of the individuals, groups and the community. Social work today has shifted from welfare perspective to developmental perspective, and right based perspective. SOCIAL GROUP WORK. Before defining group work we should have the understanding of a group which generally is a social system consisting of two or more individuals. But in the broader sense it has been defined, “a group is two or more individuals in a relationship of psychic interaction, whose relationship with one another may be abstracted and distinguished from their relationship with all others so that they may be thought of as an entity.” Eubank, 1932. Thus a group is a social system consisting of two or more persons who stand in status and role relationship with one another and processing a set of norms or values which regulate the attitude and behavior of the individual in matters of consequence to the work. A group is also a statement of relationship among persons, therefore social systems have structure and some degree of stability, interaction, reciprocity, interdependence and group bond.

“Social group work is a method through which individuals in a group and social agency setting are helped by a worker who guides their interaction in programme activities so that they may relate themselves to others and experience growth opportunities in accordance with their needs and capabilities to the end of individual, group and community development.” (H.B. Trecker). Thus group work builds up a certain attitude towards each other which makes them help one another in moving towards a better future. Many a times individual shortcomings are overcome with the help of the group support and makes the individuals more positive towards attaining his and the groups betterment. So the group in itself is seen as an entity, not separate from its members. Group work is a process of meeting both the group, individual and societies need as a whole, as it cannot be seen out of its social, political and economic context. Group work is interested in furthering individual adjustment, using deliberately

formed groups. It believes that individuals need acceptance and sense of security in relation with others and provides the same through planned group experience. PLANNING FOR GROUP WORK USING KURLANDS MODEL. A model is a conceptual design to solve a problem that exists in reality. A model describes various phenomenon’s, from understanding to goal in a theoretical way and defines the related practice. Various models developed have given stability to group work as a social work method. Kurland’s model consists of eight components of planning which is meant to direct and guide the social work practitioner to plan to serve the group. The whole model is designed both for pre-determined and undetermined groups. The model guides the workers thoughts throughout the planning stage. It presents the areas for the workers consideration, decision and action. The components: 1. Social context- it refers to the influences from the larger social and political environment that affects the delivery of services to clients. 2. Agency Context- it refers to the conditions existent in the agency or the host setting that may have an impact on workers actions and the group that is being formed. 3. Need- need refers to individual and social wants, drives, problems, issues, and/or areas of concern that can be expected to exist universally for people in the target population as they function socially and, more specifically, that exist among persons in the particular target population the worker has in mind as potential members of the group he is planning. 4. Purpose- purpose refers to the ends towards which the group is formed. It encompasses both the ends and the objectives that the group will pursue collectively (the group purpose) and the hopes, expectations, and objectives that each member holds for the group (individual goals). 5. Composition- composition refers to the numbers and characteristics of both members and workers who will participate in the group. 6. Structure- the concrete arrangement that the worker makes to facilitate the conduct of the group. 7. Content- content refers to the means that will be used to achieve the groups purpose. It encompasses what is done in the group, how it is done and why it is done. 8. Pre-group contact- it refers to the securing of appropriate members for the group being planned and to their preparation for participation.

Group Context. The student worker is working with a male youth group comprising of 14members, of the age group 16-25yrs. These fourteen members live in group homes supported by the agency and are actively related to the organization and are in the group process of ‘bringing them successfully to the main stream of the society’. The group members were all living in the streets before participating in the project of the agency. Most of them had come away from their homes at a very young age in search of work to Mumbai, and coming here they got trapped into the vicious circle of homelessness in the streets of Mumbai where every day was a nightmare for them. The social exclusion the harassment from the law and the traumatic situations had almost made them negative towards life. At this point of their life they were brought into the process of the agency by its outreach workers and their own will. Gradually they got trained and prepared for a life in the mainstream society i.e., having a regular job and a shelter to live. The group members are currently staying in group homes under the supervision of the agency, where they have to lead a life among each other as a family. They have their own roles and duties and have regular meetings and reviews with the agency. This is from where the student has tried to intervene into the group, he has the role of observing the gradual changes in the lives of the members and try to facilitate a better opportunity to the group members to come into the main stream.

SOCIAL CONTEXT. In the social context the group has a ‘negative identity’ of being antisocial and perverts. The society always treats them as miscreants but always utilize them for the lowliest jobs such as cleaning up corpses; washing sewerages etc, in the political front the groups of homeless youths are non-existent; there is no any government policy or act to bring them out from this vicious cycle of homelessness. The law also has no measures to protect them from atrocities and most of the times make them the scapegoat. The group also has very less economic opportunities to sustain themselves. They because of their negative identity most of the times are not hired by people who cannot confide in them.

Fig. vicious cycle of homelessness.

AGENCY CONTEXT. The agency works with a right based approach to bring out the group members out of the ‘vicious circle of homelessness’. Housing, identity and economic alternatives are to be provided to the group members so that they can bring themselves out of this position. The main problem according to the agency is the homelessness of the youths for which they have a lack of identity and has to lead their lives in the streets. They get a negative identity from the society due to the shabby leaving standards and is much traumatized everywhere, by the law by the peer group by the civil society as a result of which they gradually tend towards substance abuse to seek relief from all the traumas. NEED. The need of the group is to have their very basic needs of food, clothing and shelter regularly. To have a proper job with enough emoluments to sustain themselves and also afford for a shelter to stay, to fill their stomach with at least two square meals of food. The group members also need the psycho- social support to as a part of the society. PURPOSE. The purpose of the group is to take them out of the vicious cycle of homelessness and to support them to stand on their own feet with a house to stay, a job to earn and a self identity in the society. The group purpose is also to make them realize their own worth and the value of their lives so that they can emerge from the negativeness of their past life. The group also tries to inculcate in them the required skills and discipline to take themselves out of the vicious cycle of homelessness. COMPOSITION. The group comprises of fourteen members of the age group of 16-25 yrs. all of them are male members and everyone is in the process of their own jobs and currently attending the group sessions held by the group worker. The group is an open ended one it is possible for new members to come through the process of rehabilitation and reach the group stage of the group home, members can even go out of this group after successfully completing the whole process.

STRUCTURE. The group worker has a planned out activity base to facilitate the group members.

CONTENT. The group will use different types of programmes and session to enhance the whole group process. The worker would apply participatory process, skill enhancement programme, cost and quality incentives training, short term full time shelter, identity proofs, savings facilities etc,. PRE-GROUP CONTACT. The student met the group members through regular meetings and visits to the group home, with the worker of the agency. GROUP PROCESS IN CONTEXT TO THE SYSTEMS THEORY. “Theory becomes influential throughout the process of social work as a profession. Theory in social work provides a means of understanding social structure, social processes and the ways in which people and organizations interact and connect with the larger society”.


The systems theory was propounded by L.V. Bertalanfly, and many other social scientists like, Talcott Parson, Robert Bales etc. “Systems theory helps in explaining the function of groups and its interacting elements”. L.V. Bertalanfly. Talcott parsons defined, “Social systems is a set of interdependent elements trying to function as a whole to maintain equilibrium. The basic challenge to the social system is the changing environment both externally and internally”. Five principles of systems theory:1. 2. 3. 4. 5. All systems seek goal attainment and balance. All systems have boundaries. Systems as a whole are made up of sub systems. The whole is greater than the sum of parts. All systems create feedbacks.

Now again every systems in order to survive has to function four basic functions which are;-

Integration- there should be common goal for both the individual and group. 2. Adaptation- the system should also have the capacity to make changes to adapt itself to the outside demands like that of the community and the sponsoring organization and with the internal dynamics as it changes with time. 3. The pattern maintenance- the pattern maintenance would require development of norms and guidelines to regulate its activities and develop well defined objectives, identity and procedures, which are able to sustain these over time. 4. The goal attainment- it is the final task to ensure the smooth functioning of the system.
1. b.


The student workers group is an open ended group fitting into the greater social system as one of its component. It has all the characteristics mentioned by the systems theory. The group is a set of youths trying to cope with the changing environment around them all the time, there is a change in both external and internal changes in the environment of the group. The whole ‘vicious cycle of homelessness’ is a sub-system within the greater system which the group tries to enter. The group for its survival follows four basic functions’ 1. Integration- the youth group is homogenous and has a bonding between them and shares a common goal of establishing themselves in the mainstream society or having their own identity after coming out of the ‘vicious cycle of homelessness’. 2. Adaptation- the group has shown the ability to adjust to the new status they have in the group and the group home where they are more like a family, and also the group members have shown the ability to adjust to the new environment in their work place and the society around them where they are not seen as homeless. 3. Pattern maintenance- the group has certain norms and guidelines such as they have bank accounts and regular savings/ deposits which they have taken as a measure to ensure their future. They also have taken up decisions to participate in the various training sessions for the group. They as responsible members has to look after their respective bills and payments of their group homes. 4. Goal Attainment- the group has its goals of attaining the social, political and economic equilibrium state in the society.


The student worker would conclude the whole process of planning the model and the theory base for the group as possibly one of the convenient theories which to a great extent explains the whole social system the group is living in and sees it as a sub system within the greater social system or structure. The student worker also sees the gradual progress of the group members from a state of negative identity to a status of social inclusion where they have a regular job and place to live in, which is one of the purpose and goal of the group. The student worker also would like to mention the process as a very long one as the agency has an open ended group. FOOTNOTES:•

Homeless cycle- a person living on the street do not have a permanent residence so he doesn’t have proof which is credit worthiness and because of this lack of place they are treated as antisocial and meted out the most inhuman treatment from the society. Identity cycle- people living on the streets have been stereotyped and have got a negative identity as criminals, drug addicts, lazy and every other thing except as a working class. They are very much vulnerable to all short of abuses and atrocities by the public and the law as well. The Bombay preventions of beggary act, 1951 (BPBA) has given the police wide ranging power to pick up anyone loitering in the streets. Substance Abuse Cycle- it is a direct by-product of the environment conditions of living on the streets. In order to cope with the regular stress and trauma they get addicted to various substances which gradually turns to addiction. Savings cycle- it is closely associated with the identity cycle and the lack of identification documents. Banks because of the strict rules of ‘know your customer’ rules set by Reserve Bank of India guidelines don’t open savings accounts for people who have no proof of residence and identification.


Kanopka.G (1972).Social Group Work: A Helping Process. Englewood Cliff: Prentice Hall Inc. Siddiqui.H.Y(2008). Group Work-Theories and practice. Mumbai. Rawat publication Marie.W, Chau. K, Sutherland. D (ed.).(1991). Theory and Practices in Social Group Work-Creative Connection. New York. Haworth Press. “The politics of Systems Theory Within Social Work” (Malcolm Payne), J.S.W.2002;2; 269.London. Sage publication. TISS. Lib. A compilation of reading materials. Trecker, H.B. (1950). Social Group Work: Principles and Practices. New York. The Women’s press.




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