Q: What is the Thompson PCS Model and why does it matter for me?
A: Please see this excerpt below from some of my MA coursework for an explanation of Thompson’s PCS Model. If you’d like any bibliographical information, please contact us.
“Thompson’s (2006) Personal, Cultural and Structural analysis (‘PCS Model’) does an excellent job of explaining how power relationships are expressed between individuals, groups and through the wider societal context and highlights the layered effect of oppression.
Levels of the Thompson PCS Model (Thompson 2006)
The “Personal or Psychological level” is where individuals form and express personal beliefs and values. This includes “practice, individual workers interacting with individual clients and prejudice.” (Thompson 2006:27) The ideals at this level are based mainly on personal experiences.
The level at which “social norms” are expressed through “consensus” and “conformity” is the “Cultural level.” (Thompson 2006:27) It is at this level where stereotypes are created, etiquette and manners are expressed based on social expectations and other forms of behaviors and belief systems are reinforced. It is at this level where “taken-for-granted assumptions or ‘unwritten rules’” are processed. (Thompson 2006:27)
There is also a societal level which is the “Structural level.” This is where systemic discrimination is created and “institutionalized” through social policy. (Thompson 2006:28) It is also at this level that the media operates and affects the wider conscience of the nation.
The PCS Model shows how each level of society interacts with the other. The power relationships do not exist independent of one another, but are actually interconnected. Personal beliefs when felt collectively create a cultural sense of what is acceptable. Meanwhile, cultural ‘norms’ then affect the personal experiences and thought processes of the next generation being raised within the community. Cultural norms begin to be identified by policy makers and social policy and laws begin to reflect cultural values and beliefs, regardless of their accuracy. As laws change and people become more controlled by the State and its policy makers, it is seen as acceptable to express cultural views, which may discriminate or oppress others. This, in turn, causes individuals to become more oppressed or powerful based on the current governing system and laws.”
The PCS Model is important to understand as it explains how personal beliefs, cultural norms and structural institutions all contribute to oppression within society.
Last week’s post identified what oppression is and how you can work in an anti-oppressive way within your organization. By having a clear understanding of anti-oppressive practice and the PCS Model, you can more fully identify and combat oppressive structures in your organization, community and personal practice – particularly with how it relates to the youth you work with and the ageism they may be experiencing.
Question: How does understanding the relationships between the Personal, Cultural and Structural levels of oppression help you in your youth work practice? We’d love to hear about your experience with the Thompson PCS model in the comments below.
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