Cross-cultural conflicts in social work education: The Latino experience
Hendricks, Carmen Ortiz
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This dissertation presents the findings of a study designed to measure the extent and intensity of cross-cultural conflicts in social work education with a focus on the experiences of Latino students. Professional socialization is characterized as a powerful clash in overlapping cultural identities in which adults clearly identified with one culture pursue education which requires adoption of a new professional culture. This re-educative process fulfills a task which is essentially equivalent to a change in culture. Social work students take on a new cultural identity through identification with mentors and colleagues as they learn together.;A survey of graduate students from four schools of social work in New York City was conducted in the Spring of 1992. A fourteen-page questionnaire designed for this study asks about student's perceptions of cross-cultural conflicts, whether these conflicts exist for them, and, if they do, how are they being handled. One hundred and ninety-seven Latino, African American, and white ethnic respondents indicate strong identification with either a cultural heritage, nation of origin, religion, or a particular lifestyle. Respondents indicate a heightened awareness of culture as a significant factor in their lives, and identify more cross-cultural conflicts due to interactions with peers and classroom instructors than from exposure to diverse client groups in agency placements.;Latino students experience significantly more intense and frequent cross-cultural conflicts in a social work school which can be proportionately related to the lack of Latino peers and faculty available to them, field assignments primarily with Latino clients, degree of involvement in a non-mainstream cultural life, and degree of difference between their home culture and the school's culture. An unexpected finding is that the majority of the total sample identifies with a marginal world view perspective, whereas Latinos and African Americans primarily identify with a bicultural world view.;The study suggests a range of resources necessary to successfully deal with these conflicts in a school of social work. The intensity of cross-cultural conflicts experienced by all students supports the need to incorporate these issues as an integral part of the professional educational experience of social workers.