This blog post is Part 3 in a running blog theme where I use theories of cultural competency in healthcare to investigate the development of techno-human identities. The purpose here is to explore how concepts of cultural competency can help inform our understanding of how technology interacts with identity and self-concept. These posts operate as a forum to wrestle with these ideas in an effort to gain deeper understandings of techno-human experiences. Also, it is good fun. Click here for Part 1 and 2.
In their text, Multicultural Health, Ritter & Hoffman explored how using multicultural (or intercultural) approaches to healthcare might positively impact life outcomes, disease/illness rates, and promote greater social equity.
A desire to better understand the nuances of different cultures lies at the heart of this discussion. Culture is dynamic and fluid. Identities are multiple, fractured, and complex. It can be argued that culture affects/interacts/informs our perceptions of health and illness, beliefs about why/how illness occurs, health behaviors, how symptoms are described and how concerns are expressed, and how treatment is pursued and adhered. We proceed here upon the assumption that culture is learned, changes over time, and is passed from generation to generation; is complex, and many subcultures exist within a dominant culture; and a person may belong to numerous subcultures.
These statements become very interesting when we substitute the word culture with technology.
We proceed here upon the assumption that technology is learned, changes over time, and is passed from generation to generation; is complex, and many techno-subcultures exist within a dominant culture; and a given person may belong to numerous techno-subcultures (or have layered techno-identities).
The goals/attributes of a multicultural approach to health care include purposeful, directed actions:
- To provide health services in a culturally sensitive, knowledgeable, and nonjudgmental manner
- To challenge one’s own cultural assumptions and ask critical questions
- To integrate different approaches to care
- To recognize the culture of the recipient while providing care in accordance with the legal/ethical norms and the medically sound practices of the practitioner’s medical system (this last is a key point)
Let’s try it again; this time we substitute the word health or care with technology.
- To provide technology services in a culturally sensitive, knowledgeable, and nonjudgmental manner
- To challenge one’s own technological assumptions and ask critical questions
- To integrate different approaches to technology
- To recognize the culture (technology) of the recipient while providing technology in accordance with the legal/ethical norms and the scientifically sound practices of the practitioner’s technology system(s)
Cultural adaptation (or acculturation) is a critical component in understanding multicultural health. Summarized, cultural adaptation here is the degree to which a person has adapted to the dominant culture while retaining traditional practices; occurs on a spectrum between immersion in the dominant culture and immersion in a native culture; and where high levels of acculturation can have positive health benefits, yet some health-positive aspects of traditional culture (and by extension identitiy) may also be lost in the process.
Four main quadrants comprise this construction:
- Assimilated: move away from culture of origin immersing into dominant society
- Integrated: immersion in both ethnic and dominant society
- Marginal: considered most difficult, not accepted (integrated) by culture of origin or dominant society
- Separated: withdraws from dominant society and is immersed in ethnic society
In multicultural health research, integrated is often considered the most healthy adaptation style.
For kicks, these principles can be applied to techno-human/human-techno integration on a spectrum of "full" AI to “raw” human in either direction.
- Assimilated: move away from culture of origin immersing into “other” society
- Integrated: immersion in both human and robotic societies
- Marginal: considered most difficult, not accepted by culture of origin or “other” society
- Separated: withdraw from dominant society and immersed in human only or robotic only society
This is the fun bit. Create your own.