Chapter

<i>Setting the Stage: Ethnicity in American Society</i>

Carole B. Cox and Paul H. Ephross

in Ethnicity and Social Work Practice

Published in print February 1998 | ISBN: 9780195099317
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199864744 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195099317.003.0001
Setting the Stage: Ethnicity in American Society

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Ethnicity and ethnic group membership are major concerns to society and to the social work profession. Beginning with the COS and the settlement movements, the roots of social work in the United States are closely tied to meeting the needs of diverse groups. Ethnicity is a complex term that involves objective and subjective attributes and both social and psychological identity. Ethnicity is not a constant; its saliency alters with generations and with the life course. It is not the same as race although the two terms are frequently interchanged; a plethora of ethnic groups can be subsumed within one racial group. The person-in-environment framework may not apply to ethnic groups as the person may not be the fundamental object of interaction, and thus social workers must be knowledgeable about the groups' emphasis on individuals, family, or past generations. Ethnic identity provides lenses through which persons perceive, attribute meaning to experiences, and decide upon actions. The practitioner's lens must be free of distortion if interactions with ethnic groups are to be effective.

Keywords: diversity; identity; race; person in environment; ethnic lens

Chapter.  8371 words. 

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