Conceptualizing Culture: Understanding of Culture, Cultural Competency, and Cultural Safety at AIDS Saskatoon
Rathwell, Mika Kalinda
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This thesis examines the operationalization of culture in cultural competency and cultural safety strategies at AIDS Saskatoon, a local HIV/AIDS non-profit organization. This community-based ethnographic research was conducted using the methods of participant observation in the agency’s drop-in centre and semi-structured interviews with PWAS and staff. Situated within a critical-interpretive theoretical foundation, this project seeks to explore a) how staff and people who access services (PWAS) at AIDS Saskatoon frame their understandings of culture; and b) how these understandings have contributed to the creation of cultural competency and cultural safety strategies within the agency. Conceptualizing culture as patterns of shared behaviour, beliefs, values, and ideas that are dynamic and evolving to current political and social contexts, I argue that staff at the agency understand and operationalize culture on both an individual and collective level. On an individual level, PWAS negotiate dynamic and overlapping cultural models. Using Delvecchio Good and Hannah’s (2015) concept of “shattering culture”, I explore how staff take into account individual perspectives and experiences to build relationships and “meet people where they are at”. In addition to this, staff recognize the unique culture that has emerged in the 601 Drop-In Centre and use this knowledge to develop cultural competency and cultural safety strategies in the agency. By operationalizing culture in both ways, an effective framework for cultural safety has been developed over time in the organization. This research contributes to literature on the use of cultural competency and cultural safety frameworks in NGO settings and the unique ways individuals understand their own culture and the implications of these understandings on health and well being. Finally, this research contributes to ongoing efforts in Saskatchewan to address health disparities in urban Indigenous populations, particularly disproportionate rates of HIV/AIDS and HCV. Further research into these areas and the role of additional intersecting identity markers needs to be conducted.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
DepartmentArchaeology and Anthropology
CommitteeWaldram, James; Abonyi , Sylvia; Swidrovich, Jaris
Copyright DateSeptember 2020
Cultural Competency, Cultural Safety
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