An examination of Social Dominance Orientation and Cultural Competence of Social Workers
AdvisorDeForge, Bruce R.
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AbstractSocial Dominance Theory (SDT) attempts to explain oppression, discrimination, and inequalities by focusing on group-based social hierarchies. A social hierarchy is defined as the social legitimacy of one dominant group over one or more other groups. SDT suggests that social workers should be low in social dominance orientation (SDO), i.e., their psychological orientation or preference for hierarchies; however, some social worker scholars have posited that the profession acts as an agent of social control. Prior research shows that there can potential conflicts between social workers, and between social workers and clients because of differences in political ideology and religious affiliation. Similar differences have the potential to adversely influence social workers self-perceived cultural competence. In addition, SDO has only been examined in graduate social work students, and there is little or no previous research that examines the relationship of social workers religious or political variables with SDO and cultural competence. This study aimed to test some assumptions of SDT, examine if social workers' political ideology, religious, and political affiliation influenced their perceptions of SDO and cultural competence, and fill other gaps in the knowledge base of cultural competence. Qualtrics was used to collect survey data from 497 social workers registered with the Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers. Respondents were found to be low in SDO and high in cultural competence and a significant but negative and weak relationship was identified between the two variables. Results of multiple regression analyses showed that gender, ethnicity, being a not strong Democrat, social desirability, general social ideology, and issue-based economic ideology predicted SDO whereas age, race, cultural competence training, general economic ideology, social desirability, affiliation with Republican or Other (non-Democratic) Party, and SDO predicted cultural competence. Number of cultural competence trainings attended was the most important predictor of higher cultural competence. Social desirability was the only common predictor of SDO and cultural competence. Findings for gender differences in SDO suggest support for SDT's invariance hypothesis of SDT but there no racial or ethnic differences in SDO which is inconsistent with findings from previous studies. Implications for social work practice, education, and research are discussed.
DescriptionUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore. Social Work. Ph.D. 2018
social dominance orientation
social dominance theory