umweltbedingungen psychosozialer fehlentwicklungen: eine sozialoekologische feldstudie in einer niederoesterreichischen kleinstadt

Strotzka, Hans; Simon, Maria D. and Siwy, Peter (February 1970) umweltbedingungen psychosozialer fehlentwicklungen: eine sozialoekologische feldstudie in einer niederoesterreichischen kleinstadt. Former Series > Forschungsberichte / Research Memoranda 40


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abstract (outline): the present study deals with the ecological factors associated with psychological deviant development. it is based on a field investigation in a small austrian town of approximately 20,000 inhabitants. the subjects were individuals who had come to the attention of the local police, the civil and health authorities and the schools during 1963-65, because of certain misdemeanors or other aberrations. the study includes adults as well as school age children. the adult sample consisted of a total of 515 persons, i.e. (a) 171 delinquents, (b) 302 persons with a history of mental disease or neurose (psychiatric cases) and (c) 42 persons with records of deviant social and interpersonal behavior (prostitution, spreading of venereal disease, records of multiple criminal abortions, several illegitimate children, multiple divorces). the sample of 319 school children also comprised three groups: (a) the 98 "worst" students among the school leavers from the public school in theperiod 1963-65 (half of the group left the 4th grade of the elementary schools, the other half the equivalent of the 8th grade from an upper elementary school). (b) a control group also of 98 subjects of unselected school leavers matched with the failing group for school grade and sex, and (c) all the pupils from the town's special school for the mentally retarded (n=123). quantity and reliability of data differed as between the different sources from which information was secured. the most detailed information was obtainable for the school children, the least for the psychiatric cases. data were compared by means of computer technique between the three "pathology groups" of the adult sample, between the groups of school children, between the problem cases and the general population; and relationships between the various diagnostic categories, and between adults and children in the sample were isolated and analysed. many significant details that are reported in the body of this paper were found. the most important findings were that the psychiatric cases were not clearly set off from the general population in respect of most personal and socio-economic attributes; nor were there many relationships to members of the other deviant groups. on the other hand, the delinquents and those that showed maladaptive behavior in the sexual and family relations sphere showed great similarity with one another. they display the same psychological dynamics, the main difference being the sex of the subjects: delinquents were predominantly male and the sexual behavior disorders female. individuals in these groups come almost exclusively from the very lowest socio-economic class, and they are concentrated in certain residential areas with low rents and prestige. there are manifold relations of blood and partnership within and between those categories. particularly marked, and of considerable importance for theory and practice, are the interrelationships between the above groups of deviant adults and the school children: while there was hardly any relationship between the deviant adults and our controls (unselected, but not necessarily successful students) there was a significantly higher incidence of relationships to the group of failing students and even more so to the pupils in the special school. it was also found that the children in the special school come, with the exception of the minority of children with organic cerebral defects, from large families with more than four children from the lowest stratum of society, the very same group from which also the delinquents and morally maladapted in our sample were recruited. we were led to the conclusion that there is an intrinsic connection between poverty, school failure, overcrowed dwellings in inferior neighborhoods, delinquency and moral deviancy and that individuals growing up in this environment will pass on their maladaptive imprintings to their numerous offspring. we noted that our findings of a group of individuals on the fringe of society exhibiting various psychosocial disorders was not a local phenomenon, but one of much wider significance that had, however, so far been mostly described in the context of large cities in highly industrialized societies. we stress the need for further research into the causal nexus and cite some of the remedial efforts expended in other countries faced with similar problems. recommended therapeutic measures comprise: (1) planned city development with a view to desegration in conjunction with appropriate rehabilitation measures; (2) review of educational and school policies with a view to cultural and moral enrichment of the environment of children, young people and adults from the underprivileged groups; in this context the present tendency to relegate difficult and slow-learning but otherwise healthy children to special schools is questioned. (3) a reorientation in social work methods, making increased use of modern techniques of social planning, including family planning, family case work, social group work and community organization and development.;

Item Type: IHS Series
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2014 10:34
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2016 14:06

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