Cultural Competence and Ethnic Sensitive Practice

Sadye L.M. Logan

in Social Work

Published online June 2012 | | DOI:

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Cultural competence, cultural sensitivity, multicultural or cultural responsiveness, and ethnic-sensitive practice are interrelated and interconnected concepts but are not necessarily exchangeable terms. Researchers and practitioners in the helping or caring professions view cultural competence and ethnic-sensitive practice as fundamental tenets of professional practice (see Introductory Works and Origins and History). In the social work profession, a cultural competence mandate is contained in both the Council on Social Work Education Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards and the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and is also promoted in practice textbooks. The initial focus of social work scholarship was on racial and ethnic-sensitive practice as a way of addressing issues of dominance, oppression, racism, identity, difference, and justice. Cultural competence emerged as a practice concept in addressing the needs of individuals and groups from nonwhite racial and ethnic backgrounds. Over time, the term has evolved to encompass group differences pertaining to gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, ability, language, nationality, and other characteristics related to cultural background. As reflected in this entry, experience and knowledge about the complexity of being and becoming human is continually evolving. Further, the contextual nature of social work problems, practices, and interventions, as well as the intersectionality of heteropatriarchy (a framework that has conjoined heterosexuality, maleness, and power) and multiple axes of other forms of oppression, has expanded the traditional conception of cultural competence. Researchers concerned with implementation and outcomes and/or effective service delivery among culturally diverse groups and scholars from both national and international perspectives have critiqued the dominant cultural competence discourse (see Ethics and Othering and Critical Analysis of Concepts and Terms). Additionally, to further enhance this evolving narrative, specialty non–social work or related publications are increasing.

Article.  12522 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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