There is a wide range of application for this term. It’s generally used to refer to the ability to act effectively within a specific culture OR the ability to act responsibly towards people from marginalized cultural backgrounds within a specific cultural environment . We prefer to use the more specific form – so, you could say, “I have some cultural competence in Mexican American culture, my boyfriend grew up in Mexico.” We also think the idea of Minimal Competence is useful, because that suggests that you know enough to get around, but not that you’re an expert. Cultural Proficiency might contrast with Minimal Competence, being more than just competent. Cultural Fluency would designate a comfort and confidence in navigating another culture. Culturally Aware designates a person who knows about something, but hasn’t spent time actually developing navigational skills.
For more resources, check this page: What is Intercultural Communication?« Back to Glossary Index