Ethnicity and Social Work with Groups
People are born into groups, develop in groups, and for the most part, die in groups with group identity intact. Individuality is defined in a large part by group membership. Group experiences are categorized through an ethnic lens constructed by ethnic identity that includes, among other factors, shared meanings, constructs, vocabulary, and symbols. Whether or not a social worker has the same ethnic identity as group members can be either positive or negative depending upon the valuation of group members and worker on similarity and differences. Group solidarity and individual achievement are valued differently by ethnic groups and violating historic norms may be perceived as “becoming one of them.” Moreover, self-expression and democracy are maybe valued differently by ethnic groups. Social workers must keep broad fields of vision that allow for the individual group members, the whole group, the sponsoring organization, and the greater society.
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