Cultural Humility and Competence

Cultural Humility and Competence. Cultural competence has commanded respectable attention since its introduction in cross-cultural discourse. Cultural competence has been presented as a framework capable of promoting culturally sensitive practice and for training cross-cultural workers.

However, a smorgasbord of definitions and conceptualizations has generated intense controversy around the construct, with many questioning its relevance or ability to address structural problems. Disenchantment has led to calls to jettison and replace cultural competence with cultural humility. This paper presents a critical reflection on cultural competence and cultural humility, including critiquing the critiques of cultural competence.

Cultural Humility and Competence: Emphasis on competence

Discursively, the emphasis on competence has led to a transference of a set of skills that enable those who undergo its programmatic delivery to state that they are culturally competent. This often means that culture in the term is transformed into a substitutable absence; that is, it dissolves into relative insignificance as mastery is the central aim. In this there is a power relation; moreover, aspects of that power are racialised. In this paper we contend that cultural competence, as it has come to be used in the Western world, by extension in the professions, and here we focus more specifically on the profession of Social Work, has resulted in a discourse that seeks to neutralise racialised power by deflecting it.

Cultural Identity Questions

  • With what culture does the person identify?
  • How does this person define/perceive health and illness and how is this affected by his or her culture?
  • Describe the person’s health maintenance, protection, and restoration traditions and how these have been influenced by culture.
  • How has language and/or culture impacted:
  • Access to health care
  • Communication with health care professionals.

Step 1 Choose a person to interview from a culture different than your own.

Step 2 Use your book or additional resources to research the cultural group’s health practices. Think of questions you want to ask.

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