A Modern Understanding of Socioeconomic Cultural Differences

Paula C. Rodriguez Rust, PhD

Course Description: 
This workshop will examine socio-economic differences in lifestyle patterns, family arrangements, and educational/economic choices that are often characterized as `cultural’ differences between social classes. The “culture of poverty” theory posits that parents teach their children values and behaviors that result in children perpetuating the social class status of their parents. This course replaces that theory with a more modern view which includes understanding the opportunity structures within which people of different social classes make their choices. This change in perspective allows mental health professionals to become better equipped to recognize the resources available to, and the challenges facing, those from disadvantaged social classes and, therefore, provide services and guidance that are appropriate and feasible for the client.  The workshop will examine the complexities that result when status differentials compound other cultural differences, concept of implicit bias and the impact of implicit bias on assessment and equity in service provision. By the end of the workshop, participants will have a very different understanding of why a home with no food in the refrigerator might have a 78” flat screen TV in the living room.

Participants will be able to:

  1. Identify different family arrangements, life choices, opportunity structures, resources, values, neighborhood cultures (e.g., “neighborhood collectivism”), etc. that characterize families of different socioeconomic statuses.
  2. Recognize the ways in which people in different opportunity structures make decisions, including the ways in which decisions made by those who are economically disadvantaged may seem irrational and self-defeating but are, in fact, often rational adaptations which promote health and survival in a disadvantaged opportunity structure.
  3. Recognize the “culture of poverty” as a consequence, rather than a cause, of poverty.
  4. Develop perceptual, interpretative, and evaluative skills to understand others’ choices from within their cultural biases and own frame of in order to replace deficit perspectives with strength perspectives.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to assist differentially advantaged clients with identifying natural supports and other available resources, in order to provide services and guidance that are appropriate and feasible.

Presenter Bio:
Paula C. Rodríguez Rust, PhD holds a doctorate in Sociology with specialties in social psychology, survey research, racial and ethnic relations, and gender and sexuality. She has more than 25 years of teaching experience, including 12 years in post-secondary education. She is sole proprietor of Spectrum Diversity LLC, providing consulting and professional development services and bullying prevention education in New Jersey schools, including assessment services, student assemblies, and anti-bullying program development. Dr. Rodríguez Rust also provides cultural diversity workshops for schools, medical professionals, and community organizations.

Dr. Rodríguez Rust is the founder of the Alliance for Comprehensive and Effective Strategies (ACES) for Bullying Prevention. She served on the New Jersey Special Task Force on Bullying and Cyberbullying Awareness and Prevention, and is a member of the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention, the American Sociological Association (ASA), the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), and the International Academy of Sex Research (IASR). She has published two books, dozens of articles and chapters, and coedited the Agenda for Social Justice 2004 (SSSP). Dr. Rodríguez Rust lectures internationally and has appeared as an expert on the TV news program 20/20.

Location: Eisenhower Conference Center, 80 Beaufort Avenue, Livingston, NJ 07039
Date: December 16, 2016   Time: 9:00am-3:30pm
Registration and coffee/tea will take place between 9:00-9:30a.m.  The workshop will begin promptly at 9:30a.m.
For directions and parking information, please click here.


9:00-9:30am Registration
9:30-10:30am Instructor and Participant Introductions
Basic Cultural Competence Concepts/Terminology
Differences between Cultural Description v.Stereotyping, Intended v. Received Meaning
Interactive group activity
10:30-10:45am Morning Break
10:45-11:15am Basic Cultural Competence Cognitive Skills: Understanding Implicit Bias and the Self-Fulfilling Nature of Stereotyped Perceptions
11:15am-12:00pm SES Stereotypes Activity: What do the Poor think of the Rich? What do the Rich think of the Poor?
12:00-1:00pm Lunch break
1:00-2:00pm Culture of Poverty Interactive Discussion Activity
2:00-2:30pm Strength vs. Deficit Perspectives
2:30-2:45pm Afternoon break
2:45-3:15pm Small group activity: A Critical Look at “statistics” about SES differences in the prevalence of child abuse and neglect
3:15-3:30pm Intersectionality, including the intersection between SES and status differentials in the provider/client relationship, and the “culture of professionalism”
Wrap-up, Evaluations

Target Audience:
  Social Workers, Counselors, Case Managers, Nurses, and Administrators.

This course is appropriate for beginner and intermediate level participants.

Continuing Education Credits: FAMILYConnections, Provider #1252, is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. FAMILYConnections maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB ACE Approval Period: 01/10/2014 – 01/10/2017. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval. Social workers participating in this course will receive 5.0 social and cultural competency continuing education clock hours.

This course is approved by the Association of Social Work Boards – ASWB NJ CE Course Approval Program Provider #34 Course #1085. Social workers will receive the following credit:  5.0 hour(s) Social and Cultural Competency for the approval period starting 11/XX/2016 and ending 11/XX/2018.

FAMILYConnections, Inc. has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6604. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Counselors will receive 5.0 CE hours.  FAMILYConnections is solely responsible for all aspects of the program.

In accordance with ASWB guidelines, all participants must sign in and sign out and complete a course evaluation in order to receive CEs. Partial credit will not be given to those arriving late or leaving early. Certificates will be awarded to participants after they have signed out at the completion of the course. 

Facilities: If you need accommodations for a disability, please contact Niki DeVonish Stromko, Manager, at 973-323-3454 or by email at ndevonish@cultureconnectionsnj.org

Free registration will be open to staff of DMHAS-contracted agencies and self-help centers until December 9, 2016. Cancellations must be made by December 12, 2016.

To register, please click here.

Grievances: Please contact Niki DeVonish Stromko, Manager, at 973-323-3454 with any grievances.

Comments are closed.