Social Work Standards of Cultural Competence: A Model for Global Community Engagement

By James Smith.

Published by The International Journal of Organizational Diversity

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As sentient beings, humans interact with the external social, political, and economic infrastructure of the world to meet individual needs or desires and address emotions that arise from such interaction. Emotions provide information for making evaluative judgments and decisions. They are integral and significant to human interaction; emotions underlie all behavioral motivation. Emotionally, people feel insecure with inherent differences in the world community. Emotional disconnection or distance prevents positive communication across the socially constructed boundaries of gender, race/ethnicity, culture, religion, and national origin, making it easy to justify and engage in biased, discriminatory, or prejudicial behavior, injustices, and violence/war. Understanding and emotionally connecting to the humanity of others is essential for respect and dignity in interpersonal/intrapersonal interaction. This exploratory, conceptual paper suggests that standards of cultural competence can be fundamental in ensuring that members of the global community feel secure and thus facilitate competence in individual engagement within the global community. Literature suggests that when individuals understand their emotions and have standards of interaction as a guide, the probability of interacting appropriately with differentiated others increases. This article posits positive, global, cross-cultural dialogue and engagement that involves emotion, the human need for respect, dignity and security, and a connection to our common humanity; however, there need to be rules for engagement. The National Association of Social Workers’ (NASW) Cultural Competence Standards could provide the basis for researching and developing these “rules of engagement”, an archetype foundation for cross-cultural communication providing a common basis for sensitive individuals and global interaction.

Keywords: Emotions, Culture, Competence, Globalization, Ethics, Values

The International Journal of Organizational Diversity, Volume 15, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.13-25. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 389.167KB).

Dr. James Smith

Professor, Department of Social Work, School of Applied Studies, Washburn University, Topeka,, Kansas, USA