What is Social Role Valorisation (SRV)?

Social Role Valorisation (SRV) is the name given by Dr Wolf Wolfensberger, PhD (1934-2011) who defines SRV as:

“The application of what science can tell us about the enablement, establishment, enhancement, maintenance, and/or defence of valued social roles for people”

In an overview of Social Role Valorisation theory. Joe Osburn quotes

The major goal of SRV is to create or support socially valued roles for people in their society, because if a person holds valued social roles, that person is highly likely to receive from society those good things in life that are available to that society, and that can be conveyed by it, or at least the opportunities for obtaining these.”

To help people gain a valued social role, one task is to change the way the community sees that person. Being devalued is not something inherent in the person; it is the view that the community has, and it can be changed.   The community’s view of a person can be changed by applying some simple guidelines.

Expectations Most people live up or down to the expectations others have of them. People who care about people at risk of being devalued must have high expectations.

Growth Regardless of disadvantage all people can learn, change and grow. To do this often means taking risks.

Imitation Imitation is a powerful way to learn. People at risk of being devalued need good role models and need to be able to identify closely with them.

Extra Effort People who care about people at risk of being devalued must bend over backwards to make up for the past hurt.

Community Life People best learn to do anything by doing it in the place where it really happens and with the people who usually do it. For prejudices against people who are being devalued to fade, the broader community need to have positive experiences with those people.

Good Images Images of people at risk of being devalued must be positive. Especially avoiding images that do not match the person’s age and images that show people grouped together and set apart from the broader community.

Why are people devalued?

Social Role Valorisation concepts are important tools to both understand why people and communities devalue others, and offers practical ways to reverse these.

Less Value Unfortunately people with a disability, the aged, people of other cultures, countries or beliefs are often seen as being different in a negative way; consequently thought of as having less value. They become devalued people. We often deny this because it happens unconsciously, but it is real. We need to move this into the conscious, deal with it and strive to change these ideas in ourselves and others.

Low Status A devalued person is likely to be considered by other people as having a low status. Again this happens unconsciously.

Fewer Opportunities As a result of low status, devalued people are more likely to be denied opportunities and gain respected roles. They may even be rejected or persecuted.

Helping a devalued person to find and keep a valued role is therefore the most important goal of SRV and for anyone who cares about changing this.

For more information about theory of Social Role Valorisation (SRV), educational resources and training visit socialrolevalorization.com