On 17th of November 2017, the Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health hosted Keystone India for a one day workshop on Social Role Valorisation Theory. The workshop was attended by people from various walks of life and also from various organisations around Chennai and Pondicherry working with different groups of individuals.



What is it about?

The Social Role Valorisation Theory is a powerful theory aimed at supporting the marginalised group to get access to certain privileges that are enjoyed by the majority of our population. It aims at adding value to the roles played by this group in society and helps empower them.

The entire session revolved around brainstorming and coming up with solutions to address minority groups such as the ST’s, SC’s, physically and intellectually disabled etc. Our aim as professionals in the field is to help bring awareness and make sure there is an equality when it comes to accessing any privilege that is entailed to each and every one of us.

A recollection of the events-

The workshop started with our Dean Mrs. Madhuri Menon delivering the welcome address.  The workshop was then taken forward by Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Neuville, the Executive director of Keystone India. She started by introducing herself and her colleagues who were going to present in the workshop. Her team included Mr. Karthikeyan Ganesan, the founder of Sristi foundation, Mrs. Amrita Roy Chowdhury and Ms. Bindu Sengar, the administrative coordinator of Keystone India. She then discussed the Social Role Valorisation theory in brief and then moved on to discuss the meaning of Social Devaluation and how these concepts are actually applied in the context of the marginalised population. She also spoke about how devalued populations are treated in society. This talk was followed by a group discussion on the social devaluation of the disabled and the marginalised and how awareness can be brought in the community to reduce social devaluation of the marginalised groups.

Since we were graced by individuals who are core contributors to the field, we were able to get some insights into what is really happening out there!

  • The Nalam project aims at alleviating the Schedule tribe community in rural areas of Kanchipuram. The main challenge that they face is to send children from the ST community to schools as they are constantly segregated and bullied by the students from the other communities.
  • In organisations that focus on physical disabilities, we see families and other members not allowing them to make their own decisions.
  • Many groups remain indoors as they are too afraid to be judged and hence loose accessibility to various amenities and services they are eligible for.

In the post-lunch session, Mrs. Bindu Sengar spoke about the different roles each one of us plays in our lives and what we get from these roles. She then applied the same concept in the context of marginalised populations. Elizabeth Neuville then took over and spoke about how the concept of a social role. She then spoke about the differential treatment provided to socially devalued populations and the impact of this treatment on them. She ended her talk with a small discussion on role expectancy and role performance in the context of devalued populations. Her talk was followed by another small group discussion on how the social valorisation theory can be applied in the organisations of the people participating in the workshop and how providing valued social roles could lead to the betterment of marginalised people.

Key Take Aways- What you as an individual can do to help-

  • Awareness is the absolute key! 

Take some time off and educate people around you. Make sure you educate yourself about their capabilities before branding them as incapable.

  • Be sensitive and spread sensitisation 

Make sure you are aware of what you say as words can be extremely limiting. Don’t lower your expectations just because of an ideology you are conformed to. For example: If you have a colleague who has a certain disability, make sure you include them and empower them rather than make them feel small and incapable.

  • Play a role in getting out on the field

The only way we can really help the community that needs us the most is by getting our hands dirty and going on to the field. Partner with government schools or other organisations and see if you can do your bit by volunteering or even teaching. The field needs as much human resource as it can get!

  • Integration is essential

We need to stop constantly seeing a difference and creating an “us” and “them” syndrome. We need to stop segregating them away and rather join hands with them. They need to be de-institutionalised and reintegrated to society. For example: For intellectually disabled children, there does not have to be a separate school assuming they might have a harder time picking up, they should be allowed to learn with the rest.

  • Empower Empower Empower 

Empowerment through any form is the key to removing these barriers. One stellar example of this would be the way the Banyan empowers its residents through its shared housing facility and vocational training units. From the very first step of the integration process, the residents are made to feel empowered as they are given the freedom to choose what they would want to do. They are also encouraged to get vocational training and are paid for any item they make and sell. They are also encouraged to move into shared housing facilities where residents are reintegrated to their own homes where they are encouraged to go about regular chores such as cooking, cleaning, shopping etc.


The group discussion was followed by concluding talks and a small token and certificate distribution ceremony. In the end our Dean, Mrs. Madhuri Menon and the people from Keystone India thanked each other for making the workshop happen before we all gathered on the stage for some pictures. The workshop was both enjoyable and enlightening for the people participating in it and it gave us all something new to certainly think and apply in our daily lives.


Written by- Dhruva Koranne

Photography- Purwai Pravah


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