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Abstract

Excerpt from the full-text article:

The assumption around the use of nonprofessionals as members of the agency team suggest that the "bridge" function is enhanced when the new worker and the client-system are similar in such factors as ethnicity, class, cultural background, religion, and so on. Data from a 1968 survey tested Grosser's hypothesis: "that staff similarity with the client in ethnicity...will result in greater accuracy regarding the client and his community (1966:60)". Grosser's hypothesis was tested at a black staffed community action agency, serving a black ghetto in a large metropolitan city in the northeastern section of the United States. Harlem, U.S.A. is the fictitious name for this community. The sample was initially divided into two groups: professional and nonprofessional. Each group was further stratified along departmental lines to make the sample representative of total agency staff. A standardized questionnaire was given to both professional and nonprofessional in order to make direct comparisons more feasible. The two questionnaires consisted of identical questions. The instrument administered to professionals, in addition, asked how they thought a typical adult resident of Harlem, U.S.A. would respond to identical questions of community need.

This technique provided a means to explore the effect of professionalism on staff perception. The study assumed that nonprofessional staff would be closer to perceptions of adult residence of Harlem, U.S.A. based on similarity of blackness and socioeconomic factors - i.e., class, education, occupation, and so forth. An index was developed on the basis of the accuracy with which staff members predicted community perceptions. Ratings for professional and nonprofessional were trichotomized into high, medium, and low agreement with adult residents of Harlem, U.S.A., and statistically tested for significance.

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