Challenges of working in a cross-cultural environment : principles and practice of refugee settlement in Finland
A conceptual framework was created to identify refugee settlement workers' awareness of the needs of immigrants as it is manifested in refugee and immigrant policy-making and in individual helping interactions. Cross-tabulating the workers' social awareness, cultural awareness, and awareness of interventions with the socio-economic welfare, interpersonal and intergroup relations, and psychological welfare of immigrants yielded a domain-specific framework. Three empirical studies were carried out which supported the relevance of such a context-sensitive approach to workers' awareness in cross-cultural helping. The first study analysed the Finnish State authorities' awareness of refugee needs. The qualitative analysis of three refugee settlement programmes indicated that the policies of multiculturalism were best defined in the case of the socio-economic needs of newcomers while the social and psychological needs of refugees were assumed to be identified and satisfied by local settlement workers. The policy programmes were based on the administrators' own interpretations of refugee needs while refugees and other immigrants were seen as the passive audience of settlement programmes rather than as active contributors to them. The second study examined the policy-related awareness of refugee needs among local settlement workers (n=283). An awareness scale containing 35 statements concerning refugee welfare policy was constructed. The results indicated that the greatest systematic differences existed in cultural awareness among the workers. These differences were related to their professional background and experience as well as to the number of refugees in the municipality. Teachers responsible for adult migration training constituted the most culturally sensitive and flexible group in meeting the needs of refugees. The third study examined how teacher-counsellors manifested their awareness of the needs of immigrants in their recalled case-reports of successful (n=42) and unsuccessful (n=41) resolutions of conflicts with immigrants. The teacher-counsellors also assessed their own behaviour in these interactions using the Cross-Cultural Counselling Inventory- Revised ( CCCI-R) as a self-assessment inventory. The contextual and interactive perspective to counselling explained best their multicultural awareness in terms of the nature of the clients conflicts and other related client variables. The interpersonal and psychological conflicts of the clients evoked a critical subjective reflection and self-assessment among the teacher-counsellors about the quality of their own performance during the counselling process. In contrast, the conflicts in the politically well defined socio-economic welfare domain of immigrants did not evoke such a self-focus. In conclusion, this study shows clearly that settlement workers' challenges for meeting the needs of clients from other cultures are best understood in the larger socio-cultural context of a host society and in terms of the domain-specific awareness workers have of immigrant welfare. ...
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- Väitöskirjat