MSI Fellowship Week: José Muñoz on Seeing Cultural Competency as a Sociologist

Hello, I’m José Muñoz. I am an Assistant Professor in my fifth year in the Department of Sociology at California State University, San Bernardino where I regularly teach Sociological Theory, Qualitative Research, and Latino Health. I am part of the 2014-2015 MSI AEA Fellowship Program. From our AEA fellowship project I have learned that on the practical side just how meaningful evaluation research is within the social sciences. I myself having heard of evaluation research have never had any training or coursework in this area. This has motivated more attention to the initiatives in my own discipline. 

Lessons Learned: Don’t be afraid to move outside of your discipline. It is easy to stay within our own neat silos on campus but this can limit your research and students. This attention to staying within the familiar can standardize our ways of approaching questions and researching communities which is needed in most cases but it can obscure other possibilities for serving communities and can underserve our own research agendas. Finally, acknowledge the possibility that there are gaps in your research, teaching, and professional profiles.

Rad Resource: I have provided the link to the Sociology Practice and Public Sociology website. The link provides resources and discussion relevant to evaluation research and practice.

Lessons Learned: It is clear from the literature that more adaptive model(s) are needed when conceptualizing and applying cultural competency. Questions emerge as to what is culture? What is competency? And what steps are needed to find appropriate and non-standardized forms methods so that communities can access care. These are important questions as we experience continual demographic shifts.

Rad Resource: In their 2014 article Smith-Morris and Epstein “Beyond Cultural Competency: Skill, Reflexivity, and Structure in Successful Tribal Health Care” highlight some of the issues in using standardized models for approaching cultural competency and providing care for tribal communities. This would be a great article to start with for those of you interested in marginalized communities and critiques of cultural competency models.

Lessons Learned: Much of my prior research has looked at conflict within social movement organizations and the multiple approaches possible in attempts to manage problems. We could approach research on medical care practitioners in much the same way. Medical care practitioners can work to resolve tensions much like the methods I observed with movements in Mexico City. The most relevant technique would be the efforts by practitioners who are in a position to broker and perhaps bridge the differences they find when providing care to challenged communities.

Rad Resource: In Lo’s 2010 article “Cultural Brokerage: Creating Linkages between Voices of Lifeworld and Medicine in Cross-Cultural Clinical Settings” she explores how doctors need to work to bridge the world of medicine with the “lifeworld” of their patients.

The American Evaluation Association is AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowship Experience week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s MSI Fellows. For more information on the MSI fellowship, see this webpage: Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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