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Rethinking Communication in Health and Social Care

by Annette Roebuck

Asking for a Drink in Different Cultural Settings

When we think of culture, we tend to think of people who have come from a different country, or who have a different ethnic background to our own. However, there are more mundane and hidden aspects of culture, which arise because we are members of a particular family, social group or profession. These day-to-day interactions can be so routine that we never even consider them as being culture at all, yet they have the potential to affect our communication and impact seriously upon the experience of service users we work with.

To explain these concepts of culture, the book uses the analogy of lenses. In photography or science, an object can be seen through many different lenses: the object remains the same, but the way in which it is viewed changes. The 'Cultural Lenses' discussed throughout the book are:




  • Global/National Identity lens
  • Ethnicity lens
  • Class lens
  • Family lens
  • Social Groupings lens
  • Professional and Organisational lens

Our cultural dimensions influence every aspect of our communication, usually without us being consciously aware of it.

Watch the video below, which shows how varied communication can be in different cultural settings.

After you have watched the video, return to page 28 of the book and have a go at the questions and activities in Box 1.11 to put what you have learned into practice!