Feminist & Empowerment Theories
Feminist theory can be applied with Peter and Fernando to promote self-determination and problem-solving skills for their current and future challenges. Feminist theory states that patriarchal culture is concerned with power and oppression over minority populations (Adams et al., 2013). Specific feminist techniques include: an analysis of oppression and power, exploring client self-esteem and interdependence, and empowering clients (Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2014). Patriarchy is damaging to males in society (Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2014) and teaches ‘manhood’ where the dominant heterosexual culture views homosexual men and women as ‘others’ (Adams et al., 2013). This can be seen with Fernando’s father who has disapproval of his son’s sexual identity. In addition, Peter has taken on the responsibility of head of household while Fernando has taken on the role of stay-at-home caretaker to Jose. Feminist theory brings together personal and political thinking to increase the client’s power (Turner, 2017).
When applying feminist theory within a relationship there is an emphasis on the concept of mutuality wherein there is a sense of respect, interest, empathy, and responsiveness experienced by both parties (Turner & Maschi, 2015). This fosters resilience through a two-way relational dynamic (Turner & Maschi, 2015). The use of this approach within the case of Peter and Fernando would help to foster resilience in the family dynamic through this emphasis on mutuality. By fostering empathy, respect, and responsiveness within the relationship dynamic will help Peter and Fernando improve communication through empathy and respect for each other’s perspective.
Empowerment is a concept that is strongly supported by evidence in social work practice (Turner, 2017). Empowerment theory and feminist theory both provide social workers with the expertise to validate client experiences, support client strengths, and promote collectivism through mutual aid and support (Turner, 2017). Three dimensions of empowerment theory include: (1) a development of a more positive identity and sense of self, (2) build knowledge and critical thinking to connect personal and political realities, and (3) build resources and strategies to achieve personal and collective goals (Turner, 2017). Empowerment theory assumes that the client(s) are the expert on the issue at hand and have within them the strengths to overcome the given problem (Turner & Maschi, 2015). It is then the job of the social worker to connect the client to resources within their community and assist them in utilizing those resources in keeping with their identified strengths (Turner & Maschi, 2015).
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