Culture In Human Services

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Different cultures exist at various places. These cultures have been in existence for eons and are passed down from one generation to another. Some of them die along the way, others get assimilated by superior ones; but one thing is constant: every society has its own culture. These cultural diversities affect service providers in virtually every aspect of their working relationships. This is because these providers ought to be conversant with the cultural dimensions of the communities with which they interact with. Cultural norms, values and beliefs will ultimately affect the providers behavior, thought patterns and how they interact with others (Connolly & Ward, 2008).

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This prose aims to explore the effects culture has on service providers who are native to the culture under which they operate and those providers who are totally new to the culture under which they operate.

Every culture has inherent expectations of how service providers should conduct themselves. This, in turn, has influence on:

1. How the service provider ought to relate with the community at large

2. How the service provider relates to his fellows and the community

3. How service will be provided, and

4. The people who might be involved in the process of service provision.

In some cultures, gender roles are highly segregated. In the case of service providers working in their own culture, stigma might arise if they find themselves involved in activities that their culture deems inappropriate for them to do. In most African cultures, for instance, midwifery is an activity mostly associated with older women. If a male service provider or a younger lady is involved in such an activity, there is a high probability that the community will find their actions abhorrent and against their norms and they will, in turn, shun them. It is, therefore, prudent that service providers working under such cultures ought to undertake sensitization programs so that they may be accepted by their communities for effective service delivery (Connolly & Ward, 2008).

Body language is one important component of culture. Service providers should be well conversant with the various body language forms used in their community. Maintaining eye contact for inappropriately long time might be deemed wrong by some cultures. Service providers should, therefore, take into consideration the appropriate body languages of their cultures.

For service providers from different cultures, it might be a bit difficult adapting to the new cultures. Some cultures value hospitality to strangers while others are just indifferent to strangers. An understanding of cultural diversity will help them in effective service provision.

Western cultures, for instance, tend to be individualistic. In case you are involved in service provision under such cultures, family involvement would require the approval of the client before any transaction can be effected. For Eastern and African cultures, family interdependency is a common thing. It does not, therefore, require the consent of the client to validate the presence of family members when effecting some transactions (Austin & Hopkins, 2004).

For providers who are coming from different cultures, flexibility is a skill they need to develop. This is because some clients might require that services be provided in line with the norms and values of their cultures. It might therefore not be prudent to have a fixed mindset under such circumstances.

It is cheaper to engage service providers to work in their own cultures rather than hiring those from different cultures. This is because training providers to understand and adapt to the new culture might be expensive both in terms of finances and time.


Austin, M., & Hopkins, K. (2004). Supervision as collaboration in the human services. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.

Connolly, M., & Ward, T. (2008). Morals, rights and practice in the human services. London: Jessica Kingsley.

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