3 Levels to Change
Updated: a day ago
The Social Ecological Model is a tool used by social scientists, including public health practitioners, to impact change in a defined population. Created by Urie Bronfenbrenner almost 50 years ago, this model is used across disciplines when multilevel engagement is essential. It presents 5 levels of intervention; however, I present the later 3 as one here.
When change is needed in an organization, community, or other identified group, assessing what sort of change is needed is key. As is common in many disciplines, the concept of assessing, planning, implementing, evaluating (APIE) should be used in impacting the desired change. Nonetheless, 3 levels are needed to see the desired results, while APIE is used within these levels.
The first is the intrapersonal level of engagement. Internal change is paramount to communal change. The concept here is that change cannot occur if individuals have not self-assessed themselves for a willingness to change. Yes, you may be unable to change all parties in a group, but a significant majority must consider their self-efficacy or locus of control to change. Other constructs within intrapersonal level engagement include attitude, belief, self-perception, and perceived control. In order words, I, as an individual, must assess my willingness and ability to change to the collective desired outcome. For instance, the Police Reform called for in Nigeria today (Fall 2020); there must be an internal desire by individual members of the Nigerian Police Force to change and truly represent the force in a positive light. Without that internal compass for recourse, external factors will have difficulties impacting change, hence the extreme (but not necessarily wrong) call to #EndSARS.
The second is interpersonal level engagement. Changing the people you surround yourself with is key to lasting communal change. This concept believes that change requires fostered and favorable relationships between multiple parties. Constructs most used to describe the interpersonal level include family support, social support, and positive peer pressures. Still using the Police Reform called for in Nigeria, it is much easier for a policewoman/man with social and family support, or positive peer pressure to change, rather than those without such support. Another example could be an alcoholic with family support is likely more apt to quit drinking that one without (research supports this).
Lastly, the organizational/communal level engagement deals with having the resources and access needed for change. Without providing them the with-all to change in an organization, Wanting people to change is like giving a 12-year-old 6ft tallboy a car to drive without first teaching him how to drive. Better yet, it's liking asking a 12-year-old to journey to the market (10 miles away) before they close in an hour without giving him the means to get there. You get the gist. Basically, resources and access are key at an organizational/communal level.
In summary, communal change requires an internal individual willingness to change, social support that favors the desired change amongst peers, and the access/resources needed to change to the desired behavior.