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Development of the Dual Perspective. 1970’s - Social workers developed frameworks that urged practitioners to consider group differences in their assessments and practice Defiled the “homogenized” view of all clients and looked at diversity of Americans

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Development of the dual perspective
Development of the Dual Perspective

  • 1970’s - Social workers developed frameworks that urged practitioners to consider group differences in their assessments and practice

  • Defiled the “homogenized” view of all clients and looked at diversity of Americans

  • One task force, assigned by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE), determined that the family and community environments of many minority groups may not match the environment of the larger community

  • CSWE decided practitioners must address this potential “dualism” in practice with minorities. Thus, the Dual Perspective arose.

Dual perspective
Dual Perspective

  • In this perspective, “ all people adapt to and interact with two environments.”

  • The dual perspective views an individual as being at the center of two surrounding systems: Nurturing Environment and Sustaining Environment (Norton, 1978)

Basis of dual perspective
Basis of Dual Perspective

  • The idea of the “ Nurturing Environment is based on Erickson’s Psychosocial Theory that early socialization of a child occurs by learning from family or significant others in their immediate family.

  • The “Sustaining Environment” was developed from Mead and Cooley’s theory that one’s self-concept is based on social interactions and will undergo several changes throughout a person’s lifetime.

Nurturing environment
Nurturing Environment

  • Composed of family, friends, and close associates at work or school

  • People with whom a person interact frequently and often in an intimate manner

  • It is in and through these relationships that a person develops a sense of identity, belonging, and self-worth.

  • These relationships have a profound effect on one’s functioning.

Nurturing environment1


The nurturing environment provides support in terms of the following:


physical comfort








Sustaining environment
Sustaining Environment

  • Made up of the people one encounters and learns to deal with in the wider community and broader society

  • Includes political organizations, work settings, labor unions, educational systems, health care facilities, human services programs, and the media that people must interact with in order to survive

Nurturing v sustaining environment
Nurturing v. Sustaining Environment

  • Ideally, the individual is accepted, respected, and supported within both environments.

  • Most Euro-Americans experience these two environments melded together to support them and provide them with consistency.

  • Other ethnic and racial groups experience a much poorer fit between the two environments.

Nurturing v sustaining environments cont
Nurturing v. Sustaining Environments Cont...

  • Any particular group may have a strong nurturing environment in family, friends, and even neighborhood that provides emotional strength.

  • However, the larger sustaining environment may not be all supportive or consistent with the more intimate environment.

  • To the extent that the sustaining environment provides a group with inadequate educational preparation and confronts its members with prejudice, discrimination, and less than equal treatment, they are unable to function as well as their Euro-American Counterparts in that environment.

Nurturing v sustaining environment1
Nurturing v. Sustaining Environment

  • The greater the incongruence between the sustaining and nurturing environments, the more difficulty people will have.

  • This lack of fit is an important focus for social workers.

  • Dual perspective asserts that the adverse consequences of an oppressive society on the self-concepts of a person of any minority group can be partially offset by the nurturing environment.

Advantages to dual perspective
Advantages to Dual Perspective

  • When observing and appreciating people’s diverse backgrounds and psychological orientations, a dual perspective can provide insight, especially about people who belong to groups outside of the majority population.

  • Cultural differences cannot be dismissed

  • This theory creates greater cultural awareness as well as cultural sensitivity

  • There must be cross-cultural affectivity and empathy.

Disadvantages of dual perspective
Disadvantages of Dual Perspective

Does Socialization equate to overcompensation of non-dominant characteristics?

In testimony used to challenge school desegregation, later used in the famous US. Supreme Court Brown v. Topeka school desegregation ruling, Dr. Clark described the reactions of 16 black girls, aged 6-9 years old, to a choice of white or brown dolls:

10 preferred the white doll

11 said the black doll looked bad

9 said the white doll was the nice one

Disadvantages cont
Disadvantages Cont..

  • Dr. Clark’s testimony was used as evidence of the harm done to a minority child’s self-image from exposure to the values of the dominant population.

  • Thus, in an effort to “maintain” cultural traits, the non-dominant culture risks “overemphasizing” inherent cultural traits to the degree that the external traits may not be learned or accepted as the individual attempts to succeed in the sustaining environment.

Disadvantages cont1
Disadvantages Cont..

  • Assume that you are about to be born. You have no way of knowing if you will be born rich or poor; male or female; able or disabled; or black, white, or some other race.

    • Although the dual perspective system maintains the unique characteristics of each sub-group……..

      • Would you still support this “division” of groups or would you prefer underlying behaviors?

Disadvantages cont2
Disadvantages Cont..

If we are all exposed to the same stereotypes, and if our minds are all identically affected by those stereotypes, do we risk becoming equally prejudiced as those of the sustaining environment?

Allport (1954) argues that prejudice can be learned from parents in two ways: It can be taught , or it can be caught!

The parents may or may not express their own prejudices. What is crucial , however, is that their mode of handling the child ( disciplining, loving, threatening) is such that the child cannot help but acquire suspicions, fears, and hatreds that ultimately develop.

Dual perspective and the latino youth
Dual Perspective and the Latino Youth

  • Great incongruence between the sustaining and nurturing environment

  • The sustaining environment in not providing Latino youth the opportunities to fully develop their potential

  • The nurturing environment is failing to undertake its functions for diverse reasons, among them, the stress of acculturation and the incapacity to develop self-image and sense of belonging.

Latino youth and the sustaining environment
Latino Youth and the Sustaining Environment

  • School system is struggling to keep up with the new and unique needs presented by Latino immigrants

  • Environment of low expectations and poor results pervades many schools attended by Latinos

  • Latinos cannot access higher education if they are not legal residents in the U.S. Education determines whether an immigrant or an immigrant’s children move up.

  • Nearly all immigrants have occupied menial jobs that in and of themselves cannot possibly offer social mobility.

  • Lacking of immigration status which brings discrimination denies access to benefits and services

  • Youth and families face cultural and language barriers when they approach government institutions, social service agencies, health care systems, etc.

Latino youth and the nurturing environment
Latino Youth and the Nurturing Environment

  • Due to many factors, the nurturing environment is failing to provide the emotional strength that young people need.

  • Parents with limited education and subsequently poor earnings are compelled to work many hours.

  • Parents are very much absent, with children left alone much of the time. Older siblings are in charge of younger siblings.

  • Parents start to put too much responsibility on children at a very young age.

  • Adolescents feel the responsibility of taking care of their families, while still trying to be teens.

Development of the dual perspective

Latino Youth and the Nurturing Environment, Cont.

  • Latino youth are very vulnerable and more at risk of having low self-esteem. They feel different and often do not feel good about being different.

  • They struggle between two cultural systems and they feel insecure and enable to develop a healthy self-image incorporating the best of two worlds.

  • Parents and youth become acculturated a different pace. They are often torn between their parents’ conservative attitudes and those from peers at school and the mainstream society.

  • Parents with limited English language skills often feel overwhelmed and powerless to address the risks (drugs, gangs, and early sexual activity) that youth confront in the new environment.

Dual perspective and individuals with special needs
Dual Perspective and Individuals with Special Needs

  • This theory is not meant to apply to this population, but here is what I hypothesize…….

    • How an individual with special needs is perceived differs greatly in each environment

      • Nurturing Environment - less expectations, less independence, “baby” forever

      • Sustaining Environment - stereotyping, fear, and misunderstanding can lead others to meanness.

Dual perspective and individuals with special needs1
Dual Perspective and Individuals with Special Needs

  • Families that have a member with special needs oftentimes do not reach out to the sustaining environment

  • As a result, the nurturing environment can become dysfunctional ( other family and friends do not understand or want to constantly deal with situation)

Dual perspective and individuals with special needs2
Dual Perspective and Individuals with Special Needs

  • Communication can be difficult, causing separation from both environments (LONELY)

  • As individuals with special needs grow older, they tend to have to rely more on the sustaining environment

Development of the dual perspective

  • Cooley’s Looking Glass Self…..

  • “We learn who we are from our treatment by other people.”

    • For Homosexual men and women a strong nurturing

      environment is important to developing the minority

      identity and providing a strong, positive self image.

    • If family is the primary source of socialization, what

      happens to those who fail to accept “appropriate”


    • Homosexual men and women look to each other to

      not only develop an identity, but to provide a strong

      positive self-image that protects the individual from the

      damaging impact of stereotyping.

Development of the dual perspective

  • Statistics:

  • **Unlike virtually any other targets of hatred, homosexuals are

  • usually a minority within their own family.

  • Over 50% of lesbian and gay youth report that their parents

    rejected or disowned them due to their sexual orientation.

  • More that a quarter of these young people are forced to leave

    their homes because their sexuality causes household conflict.

  • Many homosexuals say they feel unsafe at school because

    of his or her sexuality.

  • Nearly 100% of high school students have stated hearing

    homophobic remarks regularly from peers and other students

    as well as over half report hearing homophobic comments

    made by school staff.

Development of the dual perspective

A nurturing environment hidden from the sustaining


Antigay bias is still socially acceptable….

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is still

legal an in several states, homosexual sexual

activity remains a criminal act.

Because of potential repercussions of being openly

gay, many choose to remain closeted to various


Like a religion, a person’s sexual orientation is usually

not obvious unless he or she chooses to make it so.

Opposition to homosexuality remains the official doctrine of many mainstream


Still often associated with AIDS in many peoples minds

Development of the dual perspective

  • If sexual orientation is repressed….where is the nurturing

  • environment?

    • Congregate in demographic “areas”

    • Clubs and organizations

    • Social agencies

    • Live and let live attitude…

      How does the nurturing environment subsist within the

      sustaining environment?

    • Hidden population within most social systems

    • Few legal rights….marriage, employment, etc.

    • Advocate through legal challenges and public events

      such as “gay pride” and “March on Washington.”