Specialisation: Social Learning Theory

Understanding My Family as a Social System

This paper uses systems theory and ecology to analyze my family as a social system. I want to understand how my family performs, evolves, and interacts with its environment using these frameworks. This inquiry helps recognize the complex factors that impact family connections, actions, and decisions. Social Learning Theory and Rational Choice Theory illuminate family life, making them important. Social Learning Theory, which emphasizes observational learning and modeling, explains family behavior. However, Rational Choice Theory explains family decision-making in school, profession, and relationships. This paper will begin with an overview of my family, apply the chosen theories, analyze our family dynamics, reflect on the information-gathering process, and conclude with a section on the importance of understanding one’s family as a social system. I want to show how theories can clarify my family’s dynamics and help me understand my development and identity in this social setting.

Description of Family System

Including members from both my parents’ families, my family is diverse but close. My grandfather Vogly Joseph Sen., Grandmother Esther, father Vogly Joseph, sister Christela, and older brother Sonord are important on my father’s side. These links underpin my paternal family. My mother, Sonia, grandma Mirlande, grandfather Jean, and aunts Junia and Murielle are my maternal relatives. They form the core of our maternal family. My family’s Haitian ancestry shapes our values, rituals, and communication. Haitians commemorate their culture with annual gatherings, traditional foods, and holidays. This cultural richness shapes our identity and family decisions. These two family systems form a unique tapestry of values and traditions that, when evaluated using systems theory, will reveal our family’s complexity and interdependencies. This analysis will also show how our cultural heritage affects our social dynamics, decisions, and relationships.

Theoretical Frameworks

Social Learning Theory

The psychological view is that observational learning and modeling shape behavior. This theory’s main figure, Bandura (1977), believed that people learn by watching and copying others. This modeling is very visible in my family (Blythe, 2017). For instance, higher education has been stressed. My grandparents, parents, and elder siblings prioritized education, inspiring subsequent generations. This observed conduct impacts our dedication to learning and shows how our family structure models educational objectives (Morgan, 2012). Our family’s cultural and social interactions also support Social Learning Theory. We internalize Haitian cultural norms, beliefs, and customs via observing family gatherings and festivities. These observations boost cultural pride and identity. The theory accurately explains how our family’s identity is shaped by our observed actions, values, and traditions.

Social-Learning Theory

Bandura’s observational learning research is important. His research shows that modeling and observation shape social behaviors and attitudes. I use Bandura’s work to support Social Learning Theory in my family and how observed actions affect our educational and cultural practices. Rational Choice Theory holds that people analyze the pros and cons of their choices based on reason and self-interest (Ray, 2015). My family’s education and professional decisions reflect this philosophy. The sensible choice of my parents to pursue further education was to improve our family’s future. Better employment prospects and financial stability outweighed their educational costs. Rational Choice Theory also applies to our family’s marital and relationship style. These judgments are generally based on family acceptance, compatibility, and economic stability, indicating a pragmatic approach to partnerships in our culture. Becker’s (1973) economics work on rational decision-making in different areas of life, including family decisions, is crucial to Rational Choice Theory’s applicability in our family structure (Social Sci LibreTexts, 2022). The genogram and ecomap of my family system show how Social Learning Theory and Rational Choice Theory shape our dynamics. These theories help us understand how family influences our values, behaviors, and decisions. Family experiences demonstrate how these theories apply to our lives, emphasizing their significance to our family system.

Personal Reflection

I felt many emotions and faced many hurdles while researching this thesis. Family history discussions can be gratifying and painful. These conversations required sensitivity, empathy, and open communication. Sharing the project’s objective with my family was essential for trust and comfort. Their experiences and viewpoints were heard without judgment due to empathy. However, sensitive themes like family members’ drinking were harder to discuss (Nosek-Kozłowska, 2021). Given their discomfort and fears, these sessions required extra tolerance. I struggled to balance being an objective spectator and a family member. Separating from personal biases and familial feelings might be difficult, but it can also lead to self-awareness and introspection. It was a voyage of self-discovery and connection with my family, developing my appreciation for their experiences and the necessity of empathy and interpersonal skills in good family dynamics.


This study has deepened my understanding of my family as a social institution. Social Learning Theory and Rational Choice Theory highlight family dynamics. These theories help us understand how our choices, values, and identities are shaped. We saw our family’s complex links in the genogram and ecomap. Understanding my family as a social system has improved my understanding of family dynamics and deepened my relationship with my loved ones. In preserving good family relationships, empathy and open communication are crucial. This experience has shown that our family system, while influenced by external ideologies, is dynamic and changes our lives and identities. It shows how our complex relationships and habits have shaped us.


Blythe, B. J. (2017). Applying practice research methods in intensive family preservation services. Reaching High-Risk Families, 147-164. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315128047-8

Morgan, D. (2012). Sociological perspectives on the family. Analyzing Families Morality and Rationality in Policy and Practice, 147-164.

Nosek-Kozłowska, K. (2021). Transnational families as seen thought the prism of the experiences of children growing up in them. Kwartalnik Naukowy Fides et Ratio45(1), 125-136. https://doi.org/10.34766/fetr.v45i1.694

Ray, W. A. (2015). Theory and practice of systemic therapy: A re-introduction to Jackson and Weakland’s “Conjoint family therapy” (1961). Journal of Systemic Therapies34(4), 29-32. https://doi.org/10.1521/jsyt.2015.34.4.29

Social Sci LibreTexts. (2022, April 19). 1.1: Theories developed for understanding the family. https://socialsci.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Early_Childhood_Education/Child_Family_and_Community_