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Ethnicity and Social Work Practice$
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Carole B. Cox and Paul H. Ephross

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780195099317

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195099317.001.0001

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Setting the Stage: Ethnicity in American Society

Setting the Stage: Ethnicity in American Society

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Setting the Stage: Ethnicity in American Society
Source:
Ethnicity and Social Work Practice
Author(s):

Carole B. Cox

Paul H. Ephross

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195099317.003.0001

Ethnicity and ethnic group membership are major concerns to society and to the social work profession. Beginning with the COS and the settlement movements, the roots of social work in the United States are closely tied to meeting the needs of diverse groups. Ethnicity is a complex term that involves objective and subjective attributes and both social and psychological identity. Ethnicity is not a constant; its saliency alters with generations and with the life course. It is not the same as race although the two terms are frequently interchanged; a plethora of ethnic groups can be subsumed within one racial group. The person-in-environment framework may not apply to ethnic groups as the person may not be the fundamental object of interaction, and thus social workers must be knowledgeable about the groups' emphasis on individuals, family, or past generations. Ethnic identity provides lenses through which persons perceive, attribute meaning to experiences, and decide upon actions. The practitioner's lens must be free of distortion if interactions with ethnic groups are to be effective.

Keywords:   diversity, identity, race, person in environment, ethnic lens

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