Journal of Intercultural Communication, issue 7, September 2004

Jonas Stier

Intercultural Competencies as a Means to Manage Intercultural Interactions in Social Work pdf-file


In the last century Swedish society has become increasingly globalized and multicultural. Today about 20 per cent of the country’s population of 9 million people is of foreign decent. Recently questions of immigration, integration policies and multiculturalism have received much political attention. This fact, in the unmerciful light of a deconstruction of the welfare state coming to terms with these issues, constitutes an enormous challenge to the public sector as a whole. And for single social workers this requires somewhat new sorts of professional competencies – where intercultural competencies appear among the most important.
Drawing from the inherent paradoxes and cultural dimensions of social work, the article singles out and discusses several qualities of intercultural competencies that seem useful for social workers. These are referred to as content-competencies and process-competencies. It is concluded that intercultural competencies are preconditions for successful social work in the future.

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