• Negotiating identity and alterity: Cultural competence, colonization and cultural voyeurism in students’ work-based learning

      Hart, Andrew; Montague, Jane (2015-10-23)
      There is increasing demand for work-based learning experiences to form part of undergraduate degrees concerned with working with people. Social justice and anti-oppressive practice underpin the philosophies of many such degrees which attract students with the promise of working within diverse communities and with the marginalized and vulnerable. Benefits to students include the development of a professional identity, an anti-oppressive approach and culturally competent practices. Despite this, critical approaches to work-based learning highlight ways in which the student can be colonized by dominant values via ‘cultural voyeurism’. This can lead to power inequalities being replicated and perpetuated by the student rather than challenged. The roles of identity and alterity in these learning processes are examined and the concept of professional identity is questioned. The article concludes that the tasks of negotiating identity and alterity are characterized by uncertainty and unfinalizability, and that the notion of cultural competence is itself problematic.