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Cultural comptence in institutional care for youths: experts with ambivalens positions
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Social Work. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. (socialt arbete)
2015 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Social Research, ISSN 1892-2783, E-ISSN 1892-2783, 1-13 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In Sweden, cultural competence if often singled out as both a strategy and solution for managing differences attributed to migrants, but few studies have critically investigated the idea of cultural competence. This article is an empirical contribution, based on an ethnographic study, and analyses talk and actions in the everyday practice in special residential homes for boys and young men. It examines when, how and in relation to what and whom cultural competence is made relevant, with special focus on how notions about cultural competence positions the staff in the studied institutions; organisationally, in relation to different work tasks and in narratives about the care and treatment provided. The analysis shows that cultural competence is almost exclusively attributed to staff who have a migrant background, and that the position as cultural competent is ambiguous. On the one hand a position as expert, on the other hand surrounded by a suspicion not to be professional. Staff who are ascribed cultural competence are made into representatives of cultural difference and locked into culturalised and ethnified positions. Thus, cultural competence rather emerges as a tool to master and control the boys who are placed in the studied institutions than as a tool to affect a change process in support of multiculturalism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. 1-13 p.
Keyword [en]
cultural competence, ethnicity, ethnography, residential home, social work
National Category
Social Anthropology Sociology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-122598DOI: 10.1080/2156857X.2015.1109541OAI: diva2:868495
Available from: 2015-11-10 Created: 2015-11-10 Last updated: 2015-12-03

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