Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Societal Cultural Competence and Cultural Community Well-Being

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Societal Cultural Competence and Cultural Community Well-Being

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper introduces the concept Societal Cultural Competence (SCC) from the perspective that cultural competence is experienced or displayed on a day-to-day basis when people from different ethnic/racial backgrounds as well as cultural groups freely exercise a workable mode of behavior when cross cultural situations occur during social interaction. Societal cultural competence (SCC) encompasses both ethnic/racial and cultural diversity and has deep implications for community well-being in 21st. century global societies. Essentially, it makes an argument for SCC through clarity on what it is and why it is important.

Introduction

This paper introduces the concept Societal Cultural Competence (SCC) from the perspective that cultural competence is experienced or displayed on a day-to-day basis when people from different ethnic/racial backgrounds as well as cultural groups freely exercise a workable mode of behavior in cross cultural situations. Societal is used in the broad sense that its object (cultural competence) transcends a number of overlapping ecosystems. The pertinence of SCC lies in its role in society as an increasing contributor to society's ability to infuse, and participate in a globalized world. The term globalized world is used in the broad sense to describe the ease and speed with which people from around the world today can be in contact with each other and that a multicultural mix of people from around the world are engaged in cross cultural social interaction daily. Not every social interaction represents a cross cultural situation.

Cross-cultural situations occur daily and are handled almost as a matter of course by individuals in places like the supermarket, schools, at work, in shopping centers, hotels, places of worship, driving in public, walking in public, commuting, restaurants, chatting on the internet, at sport related to self or minors, in a nursing home visiting a friend or relative, at the bank, in the parking lot and in numerous other places. When they do and they freely exercise a workable mode of verbal and non-verbal behavior (social interaction) in cross cultural encounters, they are exercising some level of societal cultural competence. Even if the behavior triggers offense but it is in the form of mental note taking, is momentary, and the cross cultural social interaction continues, SCC has been achieved.

SCC is proposed as having deep implications for cultural community well-being, and as its positive correlate. Community well-being for locality communities is determined by rating scores as healthy or unhealthy, with regard to cultural, social, economic and political features. A high rating on any of these features that are used to assess community well-being means that the community is healthy on that feature. Well-being focuses on what is good or healthy and necessary for the community to function. Community can be representative of people who share social, cultural, economic, political features. It may be non-locality or locality based. Culture (patterns of beliefs, customs, attitudes, and values that are learned and passed on across generations), is the feature of CCW-B that makes it most important for SCC. Shared patterns of beliefs, behaviors, privileges, non-privileges and dispositions across cultures are always in existence and active in cross-cultural relations whether the situation pertains to cultural diversity or ethnic/racial diversity. Ethnic/racial diversity focuses on the cultural differences and similarities of the multiplicity of ethnic groups of people from all continents inclusive of mixed racial groups, and cultural diversity examines a much broader context of differences manifested in human social existence (older adults, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion, national status etc). Cultures are complex. There are many within-group differences in each of the numerous ethnic and cultural groups. Societal cultural competence exists despite these many differences. …

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