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Keywords

Cultural competence, structural analysis, race, intersectionality, intimate partner violence

Abstract

This article provides a framework for understanding the distinctions between culture and structure in its application to the human services. Using intimate partner violence (IPV) as a case study, this article builds upon the contributions of intersectionality, which was first introduced as a critique of white-dominated IPV interventions. It also follows the development of the concept of cultural competence to demonstrate the ways in which it both opened opportunities to discuss cultural differences but also suppressed the analysis of racialized hierarchies of power, which are often muted by the elevation of culture over race. Finally, this article proposes a general culture-structure framework that more clearly distinguishes the differences between culture and structure and provides analytical categories for looking at how culture and structure organize along lines of categories of identity and experience such as race/ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, immigration status, ability, age, and religion. The framework also centers hierarchies of power, demonstrating how dominant individuals and groups often have both cultural dominance and greater control over and access to structural resources.

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