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Modernization theory influence

Systems Theory

Systems Theory explains human behavior as the intersection of the influences of multiple interrelated systems. Even for individual issues, families, organizations, societies, and other systems are inherently involved and must be considered when attempting to understand and assist the individual. According to this theory, all systems are interrelated parts constituting an ordered whole and each subsystem influences other parts of the whole. 

There have been dozens of unofficial iterations of Systems Theory over the past few hundred years, applied to society, science, and many other areas. In the 20th century, multiple scientists, philosophers, and academicsbegan to outline External link  and define the structure of Systems Theory in their various disciplines; there are now systems theories for biology, cybernetics, and for social work. While the applications obviously vary depending on the discipline, all systems theories follow the concept of interrelated parts influencing one another as part of an ordered whole. 

Several prominent thinkers advanced Systems Theory in social work. Talcott Parsons External link  was an economist and sociologist at Harvard University, whose book “Social System” helped steer the conversation on systematic determinants of behavior. Robert Merton External link  is considered one of the founding fathers of modern sociology and significantly advanced Systems Theory through his progressive theories on functional analysis. Merton also coined the now ubiquitous terms “self-fulfilling prophecy” and “role model.” Carel Germain External link  is internationally recognized for her work on explaining human behavior in a social environment. She mentored and worked extensively with Alex Gitterman External link , who continues to develop Systems Theory through the Life Model External link