The purpose of this article is to examine encounters between Cape Verdean student mothers and Portuguese professionals in the social care sector, and look at what kinds of care relations were established and whether culture is a significant factor.
The approach was participant observation in appointments, the dynamics of which were examined within a broader analysis of the workings of “authoritative knowledge” and how this interlocks with “cultural authority”.
The workings of “authoritative knowledge” obscured the influences of the professionals' own culture upon the care provided. The women were thus treated as “problems” in need of “solutions”, in order to conform to normative models of responsible citizens and mothers. By treating issues of birth control and good parenting in isolation from the women's cultural contexts, professionals' attempts to regulate and correct women's behaviour was potentially alienating.
Future research should focus in more detail on how strategies that aim to raise awareness of and accommodate cultural differences can be institutionalized in such a way that they are not dismissed as yet another demand upon overburdened professionals. One of the main limitations of the research was that health professionals were not interviewed.
The article provides original ethnographic data which help to further the debate on intercultural competency for care providers.
Challinor, E. (2012), "(Ir)responsible mothers? Cape Verdeans and Portuguese social care", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 12-21. https://doi.org/10.1108/17479891211231374Download as .RIS
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