Whiteness in our understanding of culture: A critical discourse analysis of the cultural responsivity practice frameworks in child protection

Publication Name

Qualitative Social Work


This article explores the conceptualization of cultural responsivity in Australian child protection through the critical Whiteness theory lens. Critical discourse analysis was deployed to examine the cultural responsivity concept in two statutory child protection documents from New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Interrogating the underlying assumptions present in the texts, the study demonstrated a narrow categorization of who is deemed ‘culturally diverse’ and a problematic conceptualization of cultural responsivity. We argue that these texts maintain Whiteness as the unexamined cultural norm and can reinforce the ‘Othering’ effect and racial disproportionality in the child protection system. We conclude with a call to practitioners to remain critical of the widely accepted concepts that inform their practice, such as cultural responsivity to avoid reinforcing racial inequality through their practice.

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