Culture and Race in Provider-Client Relationships


The article is under review for publication in a special issue on "Why Race Still Matters" of the Journal of Health and Social Policy. The special issue was proposed and is being coordinated by the Center on Race and Social Problems at the School of Social Work in the University of Pittsburgh.


Given that minority group members are underrepresented in the teaching, medical, and legal professions, minority group members often have White teachers, doctors, and lawyers. This is frequently the case even when students, patients and clients would prefer service providers similar to them in racial or ethnic background. This paper identifies possible cultural barriers to effective one-on-one relationships between White teachers, doctors and lawyers and those who receive their services, explores the potential for biased expectations to influence the services provided and outcomes attained, and contrasts the goals of White and minority educators, doctors, and lawyers, arguing that these differences have potentially negative implications for service recipients. Policy approaches to mitigating potential problems caused by the lack of match are considered, as are potential problems arising from an overly narrow emphasis on match.


Health Law and Policy | Law | Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Date of this Version

August 2005

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