Dynamics in the Human Services Demonstrates Multiculturalism in the United States

Academic Paper, 2018

9 Pages, Grade: 1


Table of Contents



Historical Evolution of Human Services Field

Contributing Factors and Societal and Socio-Cultural Issues

Philosophical and Ideological Perspectives That Have Defined Human Service Field

Political, Social and Economic Perspectives

Differences between the Past and Present Human Services Systems




Caring for persons in need is an old-age practice. This implies that the precepts of human services date as old as human history. In the United States, the field of human services has become one of the most principal fields. This field has experienced an immense evolution since its origins to present and this is attributable to political approaches and organizational influence. It is apparent that philosophical and ideological perspectives have defined the human services field throughout history. Therefore, this research paper will provide a comprehensive discussion of the most relevant aspects of human services.


Human services field seems to have achieved extensive significance in social science. Its role in health promotion, social change and education has led to its wide acceptance unlike in the mid 20th century when it faced resistance especially from professionals in the field of medicine. In theory, human services field comprises of an array of disciplines though it stands out as an applied social science discipline. As such, involves the study of social innovations, service technologies, as well as social technologies that are tailored to enhance the quality of life. This is achieved through ameliorating problems that degrade the quality of life of communities, families and individuals in which social technologies such as theories, models and practice approaches, and service technologies including human systems, organizations and programs are engaged to promote human services practice (Herzberg, 2015). In the United States, the field of human services has a rich history, and the impact of this field in the society can be evidenced in all communities. Therefore, this research paper will discuss the most relevant aspects of human services. Some of the aspects to be discussed include the historical evolution of the human services field, contributing factors, as well as societal and socio-cultural issues involved in the development of the field of human services. It will also provide a comprehensive overview of philosophical and ideological perspectives that have defined the human services field throughout history.

Historical Evolution of Human Services Field

In the United States, the field of human services has experienced transient changes over the years since its origin. This phenomenon is reaffirmed by Giovanni (2009) who states that the field of human services has evolved significantly in the United States from a movement into a profession that encompasses an array of human services programs.

In retrospect, the origin of human services in the United States can be traced in the Colonial America. During the colonial era (1600-1763), European settlers provided appropriate care and services to other people; especially the inhabitants of the American colonies under a commonly held belief that people in need ought to be given assistance. It is reported that early European settlers regarded caring for others as a personal responsibility, but not necessarily as a public duty as it evolved to be in the subsequent generations (Giovanni, 2009).

However, the face of human services changed remarkably after the American Revolution of 1765-1783. During the political upheaval that led to the attainment of independence of America, colonial laws that seemed to underpin the promotion of high quality life were challenged, and this involved armed conflicts to liberate Americans. As a result, the adoption of appropriate human services perspectives was deemed necessary in order to provide assistance to who were economically disadvantaged. For instance, a legal approach that involved the adoption of laws that ratified the so-called ‘poor laws’ exercised by the British. The most remarkable development of the field of human services was the establishment of the first hospital whose core mission was to provide care to people with mental illnesses by Benjamin Franklin (Jones, 2013). Concurrently, an appropriate care model was developed for use in hospital settings after the American Revolution. This model of care that developed during the Moral Movement was advanced through a cooperative effort of healthcare professionals, policy makers and community members.

In theory, the new model of care was based in the notion that the general public bore the responsibility of caring for the needy in the society. Therefore, the challenges experienced in providing care to those in need led to the emergence of the first mental health movement in the United States. Despite the progress realized during the moral movement, there was a significant regression that was experienced in 1820s characterized by reduced care to persons in need. This regression accompanied the development of private hospitals which were established to serve the wealthy in the society. As a result, the high cost of private care forced the poor to go to state almshouses, asylums or jails. However, these sites did not provide adequate care to people in need, a phenomenon that prompted Dorothea Dix champion for the development of residential institutions and state hospitals in mid 1830s (Jones, 2013). These care institutions experienced a rapid spread throughout the nation whose support was state funds. From a critical perspective, these institutions enhanced care for a wide range of people in need, especially those with disabilities including developmental delays, alcoholism and mental illnesses.

In 1930s, the surge of populations with social, emotional and psychological problems owing to the consequences of the Great Depression led to the crowding of people in need in state facilities. This led to the establishment of the American Public Human Services Association in 1930 (Basso et al., 2011). In addition, World War II led to the increase of people with psychiatric issues and prompting the government to adopt appropriate laws to address the condition of mental health facilities and patients’ treatment. As a result, the enactment of the Hill-Burton Act in 1946 sought to address challenges to human services at the federal level through the establishment of health centers, nursing homes, diagnostic treatment centers, and rehabilitation centers. In addition, this act led to the construction of non-profit and public hospitals with the support of federal funds.

Later in 1964, the enactment of the Economic Opportunity Act advanced the field of human services through the establishment of human services programs. This legislation was reinforced by the New Career Program that created training and job opportunities to people interested in employment in human services field.

In 1960s, the “deinstitutionalization” movement marked the development of educational programs based in human service perspectives. It also led to the emergence of human service organizations. For instance, the National Organization of Human Services that was founded in 1972 was the first human service organization, and this was followed by the National Organization for Human Service Educators in 1975 (Giovanni, 2009). The changes have evolved into the present field of human services.

Contributing Factors and Societal and Socio-Cultural Issues

Development of the human services field over the centuries can be attributable to a number of factors which have served as the principal drivers. Some of the major contributing factors involved in the development of human services field include political change, legislation, technology, and organizational support.

Foremost, it is worth noting that the transformation of the American political system has contributed significantly to the development of human services field in the country. During the colonial era, colonialists offered assistance to the needy on a belief that it was a personal responsibility. Ironically, colonial masters adopted the so-called Elizabethian laws that undermined the realization of high quality life by the ruled. Therefore, the political change that occurred during the American Revolution led to a change of focus towards the welfare on the minority communities in the society. The new focus was introduced through legislation. For instance, the Elizabethan ‘poor laws’ were ratified to acknowledge the society’s responsibility in caring for those in need. This is what prompted Benjamin Franklin to establish a hospital to take care of people with special needs. As a result, the perception towards human services changed from a personal responsibility held in the colonial America to a public duty.

It is also worth noting that legislation has remained the key approach in the development of human services. For instance, the impact of legislations enacted after the Great Depression of 1930s that acknowledged the need for human services are believed to have influenced the nature of the practice. Worth noting was the Hill-Burton Act of 1946 that extended the funding of human services from the state to federal level. This led to the establishment of health and rehabilitation centers including nursing homes to provide care to those in need. In addition, the 1960s legislation led to the establishment of human services programs; thus boosting professionalism in the field.

On the other hand, technological advancement has been one of the major drivers of development in the field of human services. For instance, the adoption of appropriate medical technology has enabled human services workers to address human services problems. For instance, the use of technology in the diagnosis of mental illnesses has improved significantly over the years. For most agencies, predictive analytics have led the establishment of appropriate human service programs for intervention to social problems (Milliken et al., 2012).

Finally, the input of human services organizations has served pivotal roles in transforming the field of human services. The most outstanding example of these organizations is the American Public Human Services Association formed in 1930. This organization has been instrumental in supporting local and state agencies in developing solutions related to challenges in human services (Basso et al., 2011).

However, the development of human services has been underpinned by societal and socio-cultural issues. One of the most significant societal and socio-cultural issues that have challenged the development of human services field is marginalization. In the United States, marginalization of families and individuals has been responsible for inequalities. As a result, social structures have been changing from time to time; thus making it difficult to design a reliable human services paradigm that address challenges of cultural diversity; the key cause of inequalities in the society. Moreover, international social work field placement program that have enabled agencies to extend their help to other countries have attracted criticism. For instance, United States Peace Corps that was established in 1961 has been criticized for its element of self-fulfillment rather than the provision of assistance to deserving populations in developing countries (Sossou & Dubus, 2013).

Philosophical and Ideological Perspectives That Have Defined Human Service Field

Human service field, like any other discipline has been defined by philosophical and ideological perspectives. Foremost, the utilitarianism perspective is believed to have contributed significantly to the development of human services. Ordinarily, utilitarianism theory entails doing good to the people who are in need. Altitudes of utilitarianism can be traced in the post-American Revolution when people regarded caring for people in need as the responsibility of the public. As result, individuals from different fields were able to converge and establish human services organizations which have shaped the field.

In this context, coordination theory can be viewed as an instrumental tool that has helped in defining the field of human services. In the recent years, coordination within human services system has been the focus to address the challenge of fragmentation. Bunger (2010) acknowledges that coordination between human services organizations has enhanced resources independence in the field leading to improved practice. In the late 20th century, human service agencies seemed to operate on parallel grounds with the state. However, the approach of integration of human services with other professions has defined human services as a profession (Basso et al., 2011).

Moreover, field theory has been instrumental in organizational development of human services. This theory provides a simple approach to change. For instance, socio-cultural transformations in the American society can be interpreted appropriately through field perspective to determine occurrence of organizational, team and individual change. As such, this theory has played pivotal roles in defining the field of human services throughout history. This phenomenon is reaffirmed by Basso et al. (2011) by stating that “Human service workers have also employed force field analysis to a host of human service change areas” (p. 12).

It is also worth noting that the strengths-based perspective has helped in defining human service practice. From a philosophical lens, the strengths-based approach acknowledges human worth and dignity (Min, 2011). The precepts of the strengths-based approach such as empowerment, resilience, meaning construction, hope, and partnership seem to have shaped the human service practice (Karoll, 2010).

Political, Social and Economic Perspectives

In practice, human service professions encompass diverse perspectives. It is apparent that there are differing political, social and economic perspectives that have been observed throughout human service professions. This is attributable to the nature of human service professions which is quite different from other disciplines. In retrospect, human service professions exhibit unique attributes. For instance, human service professions are based on morality. This implies that the work of human service workers is profoundly moral. Second, human service professions involve client-staff relations in services delivery. In addition, human service professions entail emotional work in providing services to the persons in need. Moreover, human service professionals are expected to uphold ideologies of emancipation (Milliken et al., 2012).

From a political lens, human services professions are focused on emancipation ideologies. It is believed that human services workers play a significant role in helping the minorities in the society to access basic resources. Ordinarily, civil rights and liberties require all people to be treated fairly. For instance, access to healthcare services is considered a basic right. Therefore, the extension of human services to the people in need aims at upholding the rights of all people.

In contrast, social perspectives to human services professions aim at attaining the whole-person aspect. As such, human services professionals adopt high moral standards to meet the needs their clients (Milliken et al., 2012). This is why human services professions are characterized by emotional interaction between human services workers and the people in need. Ideally, human services interventions seek to create behavioral change in the society.

On the other hand, the economic perspective to human services professions is relatively different from political and social perspectives. Foremost, the emergence of human services discipline as a profession is considered as a significant economic development. This is so because human services professionals provide services to an array of sectors including hospitals, faith-based organizations, rehabilitation centers, and educational institutions. It is also believed that human services bridge inequality gaps in the society that derail economic progress on the nation.

Despite these diverse perspectives, it is apparent that there are overlaps between political, social and economic perspectives towards human services professions. For instance, these perspectives are aimed at enhancing the well-being of the American society. For instance, the aspect of emancipation which appears apolitical relates to the social approach of whole-person, as well as the economic approach of reducing economic inequalities in the society.

Differences between the Past and Present Human Services Systems

From a critical approach, the face of human services field has changed remarkably over decades. This is demonstrated by differences in human services characteristics, human services careers, prevention methods, value systems and controversial issues in the process of change. It is apparent that the present human services system is relatively different from the past system.


Excerpt out of 9 pages


Dynamics in the Human Services Demonstrates Multiculturalism in the United States
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
476 KB
dynamics, human, services, demonstrates, multiculturalism, united, states
Quote paper
Caroline Mutuku (Author), 2018, Dynamics in the Human Services Demonstrates Multiculturalism in the United States, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/432162


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Dynamics in the Human Services Demonstrates Multiculturalism in the United States

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free