- Learning outcomes
- 1. Introducing diversity and difference
- 2. ‘Difference’ and communication
- 2.1 A communication ‘problem’?
- 2.2 Analysing communication problems
- 2.3 Ways of understanding ‘difference’
- 2.4 The social construction of ‘difference’
- 2.5 ‘Difference’ and identity
- 2.6 Reflecting on identity
- 2.7 Aspects of identity
- 2.8 ‘Difference’, power and discrimination
- 2.9 Experiencing prejudice and discrimination
- 3. Ethnicity
- 3.1 ‘Race’, ethnicity and communication
- 3.2 ‘Race’
- 3.3 Ethnicity
- 3.4 Describing your ethnicity
- 3.5 Ethnic categories
- 3.6 ‘Racialisation’ and racism
- 3.7 The process of 'racialisation'
- 3.8 The impact of 'racialisation'
- 3.9 Being on the receiving end
- 3.10 Working with difference
- 3.11 Ethnic matching
- 3.12 Services for inter-ethnic communications
- 3.13 Employing interpreters and link workers in health and social care
- Current section: 3.14 Challenging racism
- 3.15 Exploring anti-oppressive practice
- 4. Gender
- 4.1 Thinking about gender
- 4.2 Talking about gender
- 4.3 Reflecting on gender and identity
- 4.4 Where does gender come from?
- 4.5 Gender and power
- 4.6 Gender and power in the workplace
- 4.7 Gender and power in helping relationships
- 4.8 Gender and difference
- 4.9 The revival of gender essentialism
- 4.10 Men and women communicating differently?
- 4.11 Critiquing gender essentialism
- 4.12 The implications of gender differences in communication
- 4.13 Gender and parenting
- 4.14 Changing fatherhood identities
- 5. Disability
- 6. Conclusion
from The Open University
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Diversity and difference in communication
Interpersonal communication in health and social care services is by its nature diverse...
Interpersonal communication in health and social care services is by its nature diverse. As a consequence, achieving good or effective communication – whether between service providers and service users, or among those working in a service – means taking account of diversity, rather than assuming that every interaction will be the same. This unit explores the ways in which difference and diversity impact on the nature of communication in health and social care services.
After studying this unit you should be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of competing perspectives on issues of communication, difference and diversity;
- Demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which issues of ethnicity, gender and disability impact on interpersonal communication in care services;
- Apply ideas about communication and difference to everyday interactions in health and social care contexts;
- Analyse the ways in which ideas about difference can both reflect and reproduce inequalities between groups in the context of care services;
- Identify strategies for working with difference and diversity in the context of challenging discrimination in health and social care contexts.
3.14 Challenging racism
Section 2.3 explored strategies for ‘working with difference’ in care services, based on an approach that acknowledges diversity in communication needs. You saw that there are dangers in strategies that adopt too rigid a notion of ethnicity, such as the danger of homogenising diverse groups of people. There is also a danger that such strategies might result in a reinforcement of discriminatory practice.
Although the approach to inter-ethnic or cross-cultural communication described by Lena Robinson acknowledges the role played by racism in black people's experience, it suggests challenging racism indirectly, by providing appropriate services that meet the diverse cultural needs of the population. Other approaches have argued for a more direct challenge to the structures and practices of racism. In social work, in particular, there has been an attempt to develop ‘anti-oppressive’ and anti-discriminatory practice, which aims to address class, gender, ‘race’, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and age, and to develop an understanding of the interconnections between different oppressions. In social work, anti-oppressive practice was developed in the 1990s, building on feminist, anti-racist and radical social practice. Dominelli (2002, p. 4) argues that ‘anti-oppressive practice, with its value commitment to the realisation of social justice, is one variant of a range of emancipatory approaches to social work.’
The next activity is a useful introduction to some of the key principles of anti-oppressive practice.
This is an extract from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Social Work course units or view the range of currently available OU Social Work courses.