SOCW 6002: Changing Lives, Changing Society: Introduction to Social Work discussion 4

By now, you have familiarized yourself with some of the language used by social workers to describe, guide, or frame their practice. In real-life situations, what does it mean to engage diversity, equity, and inclusion in practice? How do social workers approach the practice of cultural awareness as they develop their competence in working with social diversity? How do cultural values and beliefs influence personal perceptions of groups viewed as “other”?
It may help to first realize that cultural awareness and humility are not an end state—they are an ongoing, lifelong process. And, no matter who you are, it is important to recognize that you have a culture. When participating within your own culture, you may think, “But this is not culture. This is just the way things are done around here.” Humans do tend to be ethnocentric, meaning that they assume people believe and think like they do unless shown otherwise. As a social worker, however, your goal is to move beyond ethnocentric assumptions with an ever-present awareness that diversity exists, as well as valuing those differences.
This week, you reflect on aspects of your own culture to build a bridge toward broader cultural awareness. You then focus on a population or group of interest for your own practice.
Learning Objectives
Students will: 

Analyze cultural differences
Recommend ways to enhance knowledge and skills related to cultural awareness
Identify a social work population
Analyze social problems as they relate to social work practice

Required Readings

Alvarez-Hernandez, L. R., & Choi, Y. J. (2017). Reconceptualizing Culture in Social Work Practice and Education: A Dialectic and Uniqueness Awareness Approach. Journal Of Social Work Education, 53(3), 384-398. doi:10.1080/10437797.2016.1272511

Barsky, A. (2018). Cultural competence, awareness, sensitivity, humility, and responsiveness: What’s the difference? New Social Worker, 25(4), 4–5.

Sue, D. W., Rasheed, M. N., & Rasheed, J. M. (2016). Theoretical foundations for multicultural social work practice. In Multicultural social work practice: A competency-based approach to diversity and social justice (pp. 29–58). Jossey-Bass.

Required Media

Walden University. (2021). Voices of diversity [Video].
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 5 minutes.

Accessible player –Downloads–Download Video w/CCDownload AudioDownload Transcript

Walden University. (2021). Cultural awareness, cultural competence, and cultural humility [Interactive module].

Walden University: Academic Skills Center. (2018, September 11). Accessing your assignment feedback [Video]. YouTube.
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 4 minutes.

Optional Resources
If you have not yet reviewed the two items below, originally found in Week 1, review them this week.

Walden University. (2021). MSW student orientation [Interactive module].

Walden University. (2019). MSW field experience [Video].

Accessible player –Downloads–Download Video w/CCDownload AudioDownload Transcript

You are socialized within a culture the moment you are born, both through your family and your broader community interactions.
As humans develop and mature, they learn the unwritten rules of social behavior and interaction as they watch and participate in their social environment. An individual’s culture is often influenced by nationality, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, and geographic location.
By recognizing you have a culture in the context of a larger culture, and that your distinct culture exists along with other distinct cultures, how could that help you see the nature, value, and strengths of those other cultures? In this Discussion, you consider similar questions.
To Prepare

Consider the different aspects of culture such as: language, communication style, art, customs/traditions (e.g., holidays, weddings, funerals), values, stories, religion, food, social habits (e.g., eye contact, how close one stands, how one greets or says “good”), gender roles, clothing, music.
Reflect on the first time you remember someone else displaying a different cultural characteristic than your own. Where were you? What did you notice? How did you respond?
Read Standard 1.05 from the NASW Code of Ethics:
1.05 Cultural Awareness and Social Diversity(a) Social workers should understand culture and its function in human behavior and society, recognizing the strengths that exist in all cultures.(b) Social workers should have a knowledge base of their clients’ cultures and be able to demonstrate competence in the provision of services that are sensitive to clients’ cultures and to differences among people and cultural groups.(c) Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical ability.(d) Social workers who provide electronic social work services should be aware of cultural and socioeconomic differences among clients and how they may use electronic technology. Social workers should assess cultural, environmental, economic, mental or physical ability, linguistic, and other issues that may affect the delivery or use of these services.

By Day 3
Post a response to the following:

Briefly identify and describe your culture.
Describe your first memory of a cultural difference.
Explain the information a social worker would need to know about an individual’s or family’s culture in order to effectively deliver services to them.
Describe potential consequences of a lack of cultural awareness on the social worker’s part.

By Day 6
Respond to at least one colleague by describing ways to fulfill the Ethical Standard 1.05 and develop your cultural awareness, competence, and humility.