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Sociology Essay Sample: Influence of Cultural Sensitivity on Development Projects and Programs

6 pages
1626 words
Carnegie Mellon University
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Sociology is the study of cultures from various dimensions such as language, beliefs, customs, rules, knowledge, or art as a collective identity developed by members of a social group to make their social environment meaningful. Sociology has enabled people to appreciate and understand the diffusion, production, reception, evaluation and application of cultural meaning across organizations, businesses and institutions across the world (Duxbury, Kangas & De Beukelaer, 2017). People can also differentiate ethical, racial, and class groups which define the roles of culture in developing group boundaries and inequalities among themselves. Typically, culture encompasses human elements such as norms, values, beliefs, behaviors and arts inherited from one generation to another in society. Culture differentiates a group of people from another as different communities have distinct cultures. For instance, in the United States, the European Americans have distinctive culture from Hispanic and African Americans (Kim et al., 2015). As a result, cultural sensitivity is an essential act as it influences the manner in which humans interact with each other and the world around them. Cultural sensitivity implies that as an individual or a group you ought to respect and tolerate characteristics and behaviors of other peoples with different cultural backgrounds.

In todays societies, there is always a dominant and secondary culture among residents who need to coexist peacefully with each other despite their cultural differences. In fact, the world has turned into a multicultural global business community comprised of cross-cultural development projects teams. The workforce promotes innovation due to diversity in experience from various regions and cultures (Vanclay et al., 2015). Likewise, the team would enhance the productivity and leads to the improved competitive position of the related organizations. However, if the management fails to address cultural diversity in their groups, the subsequent conflicts might interfere with the success and completion of the laid project (Epstein & Buhovac, 2014). Cultural differences among project participants might create misunderstanding throughout the project life cycle. The influence of cultural aspects such as time differences, language barriers, political, social-economic, and religious diversity leads to normative patterns promoting self-interest at the expense of the organizational objectives. As a result, people should approach different culture prudently with cultural sensitivity taking a core role in fighting chances of negative stereotype relations.

Cultural Sensitivity

Cultural sensitivity is a universal expression which has been defined differently by various scholars. Cultural sensitivity is a set of skills that enable people to learn and understand individuals or groups acting differently from their expectations, beliefs and values. Cultural sensitivity is also the act of being aware of cultural differences and similarities between people without assigning value. As a result, people acknowledge that they are different and that their cultures are not better than any other. For example, in large corporations they are always a dominant culture employee are expected to adopt. Nevertheless, the companies need to incorporate and promote peaceful coexistence and cultural competence through acknowledging and fostering diversity in the global, multicultural workforce.

Cultural sensitivity enables people to acquire ethno-relative worldview rather than ethnocentric orientation. Ethnocentric people tend to avoid cultural differences by denying its existence, raising defences against it, and ignoring its importance. Also, they believe their culture is constructive and therefore tends to interact in homogeneous groups which are fond of stereotyping other people. However, those who embrace cultural sensitivity accepts, adapts and integrates with other people from different ethics and racial groups. As a result, individuals who are culturally sensitive can evaluate other peoples behaviours from their frame of reference to adapt to the norms of different cultures. When culturally sensible conscious people unite, there is a likelihood of bringing together diverse ideologies necessary and vital in operation of universal organizations. Consequently, culture is a dominant driver for development, with a community-wide economic, social and environmental impacts.

Cultural Sensitivity and Sustainable Developments

Cultural sensitivity has magnificently impacted the development of projects and programs. The global diversity of culture leads to non-monetized benefits such as resilience, creativity, innovation, higher social inclusiveness and rootedness and promotes entrepreneurship in communities. In fact, respecting and supporting cultural diversity strengthens social capital of a society and fosters trust among project associates and programmers (Vanclay et al., 2015). Likewise, cultural factors influence lifestyle, consumption patterns, individual behaviors, values related to environmental stewardship and the manner in which people interact with the ecosystem. For example, the combination of local with the international knowledge systems on eco-friendly management practices provides valuable insight on solutions to the loss of biodiversity, environmental degradation, and effects of climate change. Also, variations in culture have empowered people to respond to gender, health and technology issues as well as challenges in acquiring livelihood and education. In fact, cultural sensitivity has resulted in the generation of new jobs, market opportunities and higher income levels (Watene & Yap, 2015). Therefore, it has fostered society-based economic growth through empowering individuals.

Projects and programs are the concepts laid and implemented by development agencies and governments. Communities, on the other hand, enjoy lifelong development processes and as a result government, society and institutions all clash on the foundation and advancement of a project cycle. The most usual areas of conflicts include accountability, timelines, management processes, and development agendas among others. For instance, the objectives of predetermined schemes have often been the primary link in the chain of divisiveness and dependency from communities through locals to non-governmental organizations and other co-financing agencies. However, culture determines the manner in which people view the world and therefore development agencies must operate within a relative cultural framework. For a project to be sustainable, it must grow within the framed local cultures to avoid undermining social relationships (Oprean, Burdusel & Qian, 2015). Therefore, culturally appropriate developments demand authentic participation of all stakeholders. Nevertheless, in the presence of ethnocentric and lack of cultural competence, they are numerous barriers undermining the commitment of developing agencies and participants.

Cultural-sensitive development projects concretely address both human rights and economic dimensions. The plans provide solutions to complex development issues such as poverty in an innovative and multispectral manner. Indeed, culture has a transformative influence on development approaches which makes broadminded schemes and programs in the society more relevant to the need of the affected people. As a result, the projects which are responsive to cultural context and the particularities of the community are more likely to yield sustainable, inclusive and equitable outcomes. In fact, the involved stakeholders should strive to acknowledge and promote respect for dominant and secondary cultures within a human right based approach to facilitate intercultural dialogues and prevent conflicts. In most cases, where the rights of the marginalized groups are given a priority there is an optimum condition for achieving development objectives due to the free and authentic participation of all involved members of the society.

For a multicultural project to be successful, it must adhere to cultural relationships and both personal and social development agendas. Involvement in organized activities promotes cultural sensitivity through the formation of cross-group friendship and creating cultural awareness. Consequently, participants in the coordinated social program develop self-discipline, self-understanding, and altitude which improves their social skills and ability to resolve challenging social situations (Kim et al., 2015). The cross-group friendship and interactions allow people to reduce negative stereotype, prejudice and also enhance ethic and cultural tolerance. Additionally, in the course of the project cycle, the involved agencies and people are subjected to an extended social interaction which at times might be stressful to both in and out-group members. For example, several African Americans in the United States have negative experience interacting with racial differences, therefore, avoiding social contacts. In such a case, individuals of different cultural and ethnic background might have to overcome stress related to uncertainty about cultural variations. However, with a sensible culture manager, one can psychologically grow to improve self-esteem and relationship skills significant in project development cycle (Epstein & Buhovac, 2014).

By taking culture rationally, one has to avoid determinism of any variety and accept the complexity of life. By approaching culture sensibly, the hierarchical usage of culture would promote ethnicity where every member of a project would wish to assert his or her superiority over other social behaviors and patterns. On the other hand, a hegemonic usage or approach to culture acknowledge that societies are pluralistic and emphasis on the relationship between power and culture. The hegemonic approach recognizes secondary cultures in the multicultural group and the desire of individuals to preserve their subordination (Watene & Yap, 2015). Therefore, for development to take place, it is paramount to acknowledge the diverse nature of culture and desire to understand different ways people experience things to analyze and appreciate their way of behaving logically. For example, an architect of residential settlements will have to accommodate diverse cultural and ecological values in a society based on the peoples ways of living.


In conclusion, through cross-cultural contact people experience personal growth because of being exposed to different cultural perspectives. Likewise, being tolerant and acknowledging that cultural similarities and differences should not hinder cooperation within a workforce has dramatically influenced the success of critical social projects and programs. As a result, cultural sensitivity promotes the ability of people to experience new and different dimensions of human diversity. Cross-cultural contact enables people to explore their cultural beliefs and values by interacting and communicating with other people holding diverse ideologies, therefore, promoting social and personal growth. The inadequacy of universal policies and development approaches based on cultural context has failed well-intentioned development programs. Consequently, integration of culture into sustainable development policies and strategies leads to advanced human-centred and powerful socio-economic community growth. Lastly, since culture is a transverse and a universal concern it affects the dimensions of development and societies should approach sustainable developments from a cultural context view to achieve the desired outcomes.



Duxbury, W., Kangas, A. and De Beukelaer, C., 2017. Cultural policies for d...

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