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Research surveies are indispensable to the pattern of Social Work. Social Work pattern is highly complex and research surveies allow societal workers to develop theories and hypotheses that will assist them understand the root of the issues that their clients are sing. Academic grounds is critical for endorsing up the patterns, policies and values that underpin Social Work pattern. Academic research non merely benefits the societal worker through the enlargement of their cognition but can besides profit clients and society at a policy degree. In this essay I will be measuring the research carried out by Brown and Harris ( 1984 ) in their book “Social beginnings of depression: a survey of psychiatric upset in women” , specifically on chapter 10, “Social category, arousing agents and depression” . Brown and Harris carried out this research to happen out how life events and societal and cultural factors may take to the development of depression amongst adult females. I will briefly depict their survey and their findings and so discourse the methodological analysis they used and the advantages and disadvantages of their methodological analysis. I will besides discourse how Brown and Harris’ research is highly of import and influential for the pattern of Social Work and how the survey is still used today to demo how societal and cultural factors can take to depression.

Description of survey and findings

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The survey aimed to happen out how societal factors and life events lead to women’s depression. They sampled 458 adult females in the south London country of Camberwell and surveyed them utilizing “clinical based interviews” ( Brown & A ; Harris 1984 ) on their day-to-day lives and depression. Brown and Harris purpose to contend the broad spread belief that depression is more common amongst adult females of higher societal categories, as asserted by old surveies carried out by sociologist Pauline Bart, head-shrinker Ernest Becker and psychologist Charles Costello. Brown and Harris’ survey contests this thought that in-between category adult females are more likely to develop depression as they found in their survey of 458 adult females that it was much more common for those who were working category to develop a psychiatric upset, depression in peculiar. They found that 23 % of working category adult females were “considered cases” as opposed to merely 6 % of in-between category adult females. They measured the societal category of the adult females by the businesss of the women’s hubbies and when this wasn’t available they used the business of the women’s male parent to find their societal category.

In add-on to category differences, Brown and Harris besides looked at the “five life stages” which consisted of, three phases where adult females has a kid at place with the youngest kid being less than 6, between 6 and 14 and 15 and over. The staying two life phases consisted of adult females younger than 35 where there was no kid at place and adult females over 35 where there was no kid at place. They found that in all life phases, working category adult females had a higher rate of depression than in-between category adult females. Most notably, the highest per centum was of 31 % for working category adult females with a kid of less than 6 compared to 5 % of in-between category adult females.

Brown and Harris found that depression was more prevailing amongst adult females of working category because there is greater exposure attached to working category. Vulnerability factors included deficiency of a confiding relationship, loss of female parent before age of 11, unemployment, hapless lodging and low fundss. These exposure factors, which were more common amongst those adult females who were working category, were found to increase the opportunity of developing depression. Vulnerability factors, when combined with nerve-racking life events, like divorce, unwellness and decease, which Brown and Harris called “provoking agents” further increased the opportunities of developing depression amongst working category adult females as they are more vulnerable with less support, fiscal and familial. These arousing agents or life events were ranked in badness by Brown and Harris, runing from the most terrible being “death” to the least “residence change” . “When societal category is considered it is merely terrible events that show a category difference and so merely among adult females with children” ( Brown & A ; Harris 1984 ) , for both working and in-between category adult females without kids 1 in 3 experience at least one terrible life event in the twelvemonth, nevertheless when sing those with kids the figure stays the same for working category adult females, 1 in 3 whereas it drops to 1 in 5 for in-between category adult females with kids, connoting that in-between category adult females with kids are more protected from arousing agents that lead to depression.

The survey concluded that societal factors and life events are linked to depression. Working category adult females were more likely to develop depression than in-between category adult females in all cases demoing that the hazard of developing depression is linked to societal category. Brown and Harris found that being from a lower category meant increased exposure and greater opportunity of being exposed to arousing agents than in-between category adult females.

Importance to Social Work

The survey by Brown and Harris has been marked for many old ages by a combination of inventive genius and committedness to the strict testing of their thoughts ( Tennant and Bebbington 1978 ) . This survey is highly of import to societal work pattern as it supplying a turning point in looking at depression amongst adult females. The survey provided an consciousness of women’s mental wellness. Before this survey, most research focused on personality traits and experiences in childhood that linked adult females to depression, nevertheless Brown and Harris’ survey was different in that it investigated the societal and cultural factors related to women’s mental wellness. It’s a really of import survey as it recognized that depression could be linked to societal category and that life events or troubles associating to societal category could arouse the development of depression. Brown and Harris’ survey is really of import to the pattern of societal work as it provided a theory of the relationship between societal category or position and depression amongst adult females and a clear apprehension that poorness is linked to depression. In add-on to happening a nexus between category and depression, this survey is besides really important to societal work as it allowed for the widening of positions. Before, there was a medicalised theoretical account or manner of looking at depression and mental unwellnesss nevertheless this survey allowed societal workers to develop the societal theoretical account of depression, a thought which challenged the medical theoretical account and looked for a much broader apprehension of the grounds for depression.

Furthermore, this survey was connected to the turning consciousness of women’s unequal place in society and in the household, so whilst it did non arise from feminist enquiry the survey helped the germinating women’s rightist motion which began to give adult females a voice in society. It besides led to the development in the apprehension of the demands of caring for kids and the impact of the decrease in the drawn-out household at this clip. This survey is really of import to Social Work pattern as it strengthened the function of societal work with households and persons who are in hurt through community based pattern. It besides allowed adult females and mothers’ webs to beef up as the survey helped reflect a visible radiation on the troubles of being a female parent, of sing different life events and the troubles related to being working category. The survey highlights the importance of societal work values like anti-oppressive pattern that strive towards equality for adult females and the acknowledgment that what adult females experience should be understand.

Furthermore, this survey is highly of import to societal work pattern as it allows societal workers to understand the roots of depression in adult females. This survey shines a visible radiation on the societal factors that lead to depression, societal workers can utilize this survey to place what societal factors lead to depression and aim these factors and implement bar techniques for those adult females who are most likely to develop depression.

Advantages and Disadvantages of methodological analysis

Brown and Harris used a assorted methodological analysis in their research. Statistical information was gathered and analysed by Brown and Harris, alongside the qualitative informations obtained by single narrative and narratives. They used a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods which increases cogency and dependability. Reliable informations means that the research could be repeated and the same consequences would happen and valid informations means it’s a true image of what the research worker is seeking to mensurate. Brown and Harris used random trying in their research and they used the sample of 458 adult females to stand for the mark population – in-between category and working category adult females. Random trying means their research is representative of the mark population and they can therefore do generalizations about depression suffered by in-between category adult females in contrast to working category adult females.

Brown and Harris carried out semi-structured interviews intending that the adult females could be asked open-ended inquiries which would give qualitative informations, increasing cogency by obtaining an in-depth apprehension of the women’s state of affairss. Interviews mean that the conversation developed of course and so is a good method for researching sensitive issues wish depression as the natural conversation allows the interviewee to experience relaxed and able to open up more to their interviewer. Interviews besides allow a relationship to construct between research worker and respondents. Brown and Harris continued their research over a long period of clip ( 1969/71 and once more in 1974/75 ) which would besides beef up their relationship with the adult females, leting their grounds to be more valid and paint a true image.

However, there have been unfavorable judgments made of the methodological analysis used by Brown and Harris. Tennant and Bebbington ( 1978 ) criticise Brown and Harris’ methodological analysis on the footing of their random trying. They argue that 15 % of families in the sample had 2 or more age-eligible adult females populating in them, but Brown and Harris merely chose one. Tennant and Bebbington hence argue that there is prejudice in the sample and that larger than mean families are somewhat underrepresented in their research.

Tennant and Bebbington ( 1978 ) further criticise Brown and Harris on their “conceptualization and definition” of the construct of “vulnerability factors” . Tennant and Bebbington argue that the building of the exposure factor “parental loss” is unfastened to unfavorable judgment. Brown and Harris argue that maternal loss influences the hazard of depression whereas paternal loss doesn’t affect the hazard of developing depression. They argue that Brown’s definition of loss consists of three different variables, “loss through decease, separation from one parent, and matrimonial separation of the parents” events which Tennant and Bebbington describe as “qualitatively quite different” and that the composing of “maternal” and “paternal” loss groups may be so different that they are non valid to compare their impact on mental wellness ( 1978 ) . They argue that in the case of separation adult females normally get the detention ensuing in a paternal loss and sing decease, the hazard of losing male parents in childhood is greater than the hazard of losing your female parent ( Langer and Michael 1963 cited by Tennant and Bebbington 1978 ) and so this comparing in relation to depression is misdirecting and it would be much more appropriate to compare maternal/paternal decease and maternal/paternal separation for more valid consequences.


In decision, I would reason that this research survey by Brown and Harris is undeniably of import to Social Work pattern. Through its assorted methodological analysis, utilizing both qualitative and quantitative methods of research, it proves a really dependable and valid image of category differences and societal factors linked to women’s mental wellness. This research is critical to Social Work pattern as it marks a turning point in a alteration in attitude towards mental wellness, a displacement off from the medical theoretical account to a societal theoretical account of depression. It underpins values that are at the bosom of Social Work pattern like anti-oppressive pattern and equality for adult females.

Word count: 1941


Brown, G, W. & A ; Harris, T, ( 1984 ) “ 10. ‘Social category, arousing agents, and depression ‘ ” from

Brown, G W. & A ; Harris, T,Social beginnings of depression: a survey of psychiatric upset in

adult femalespp.150-169,353-358, London: Tavistock Publications

Brown, G. W. , & A ; Harris, T. ( 1978 ) . Social beginnings of depression: a answer.Psychol Med,8( 4 ) , 577-88.

Tennant, C. , & A ; Bebbington, P. ( 1978 ) . The societal causing of depression: a review of the work of Brown and his co-workers.Psychological Medicine,8( 04 ) , 565-575.

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