Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

This thoroughly revised edition of a modern social work classic textbook from a leading international author, offers a clear and systematic account of professional ethics in relation to social work practice, framed within a global context, and combines a sound grasp of theoretical issues with a sharp focus on the latest policy and practice.
Ethics and Values in Social Work successfully synthesises the complex ideas and concepts that characterise social work's value base. Written with Banks' trademark accessibility and theoretical rigour, this book will continue to be an invaluable resource for all students, educators and practitioners of social work.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
This Introduction sets the scene for the rest of the book, briefly discussing some of the key terms (‘social work’, ‘social workers’, ‘service users’, ‘values’ and ‘ethics’), the relationship between ethics, religion and politics, and then outlining the rationale, aims and structure of the book.
Sarah Banks

Chapter 1. Ethical challenges in social work

Abstract
This chapter explores how we conceive of the domain of the ‘ethical’, including discussion of the distinctions and relationships between ethical, technical and legal matters. It then discusses the nature of the ethical challenges inherent in social work, and how and why questions of ethics arise, linked to the place of social work as a human services profession largely within state-organized systems of welfare. Finally, consideration is given to the guilt and anxiety often felt by social workers and whether the blame allocated to them for outcomes of what are essentially moral decisions is justified. The chapter ends with an exercise to encourage identification of ethical issues and a case for discussion from Austria about a social worker who received a suspended sentence and fine for neglecting to perform her professional duties in relation to safeguarding a child.
Sarah Banks

Chapter 2. Principle-based approaches to social work ethics

Abstract
In this chapter I will discuss the nature of ‘principles’, give examples of principle-based ethics relevant for social work (Kantian, utilitarian and radical approaches), and consider the potential of a combined common morality approach to ethics that draws on principles relating to respect for human dignity and worth, the promotion of human welfare and promotion of social justice. The chapter concludes with an exercise to encourage reflection on ethical principles, and a case for discussion about a social worker using deception to ‘rescue’ an abused girl in Iran.
Sarah Banks

Chapter 3. Character and relationship-based approaches to social work ethics

Abstract
This chapter discusses a number of approaches to ethics that focus attention on people rather than actions, including virtue ethics, the ethics of care, the ethics of proximity and postmodern ethics. The chapter concludes by arguing for a holistic account of ethics that combines a range of different types of values, including principles, character and relationships. At the end of the chapter, there is an exercise to encourage readers to explore character and emotion, and a case for discussion about the relationship of social workers in Bulgaria with a young girl.
Sarah Banks

Chapter 4. Principles into practice: professionalism and codes of ethics

Abstract
This chapter will discuss the nature of professionalism, followed by an examination of the form, function and content of written codes of ethics as a way of capturing key ethical principles and moral qualities for social work and specifying their implementation in practice. The discussion is illustrated through the examination of codes of ethics collected from professional associations of social workers from different countries, consideration of the advantages and limitations of codes of ethics and the growing trends towards professional regulation. At the end of this chapter, there is an exercise about analysing codes of ethics, and a case for discussion is presented about defending a social worker’s duty of professional secrecy in France.
Sarah Banks

Chapter 5. Service users’ rights: clienthood, citizenship, consumerism and activism

Abstract
In this chapter I will discuss the concepts of ‘rights’ and ‘human rights’, including debates about whether the idea of universal and absolute rights makes sense. The concept of ‘relational rights’ is introduced as a possible conception of rights that goes beyond the focus on the isolated individual. I then explore the concept of rights in relation to service users, considering the difference between regarding the service user as a person, a citizen, consumer or activist and the approaches that need to be adopted by social workers to support, enable and allow service users to exercise their rights. At the end of the chapter, there is an exercise to encourage reflection on rights and a case for discussion about the rights of a pregnant young woman in Turkey.
Sarah Banks

Chapter 6. Social workers’ responsibilities: policies, procedures and managerialism

Abstract
In this chapter I will explore the nature of social workers’ duties to service users in relation to their other duties and broader responsibilities, including those to employing agencies, the profession and society. Professional codes of ethics say more about duties to service users and to the profession and tend to argue that these have primacy. Employing agencies, on the other hand, tend to require that employees put agency policies and procedures first. This chapter will explore the conflicts that arise between different sets of duties and responsibilities, particularly in the context of the increasing proceduralization and bureaucratization of social work (managerialism) and privatization of welfare services. At the end of the chapter, there is an exercise to encourage reflection on personal, agency and societal values, and a case for discussion about social workers acting as informants during the last military dictatorship in Argentina.
Sarah Banks

Chapter 7. Ethical problems and dilemmas in practice

Abstract
This chapter will explore some of the ethical problems and dilemmas that arise in everyday social work practice in contexts where social workers have to make judgements and decisions. First, I will briefly outline a particular view of the nature of ethical judgements in professional practice. I will then explore, in the light of the discussion in the previous chapters, examples of problems and dilemmas that have been collected from both trainee and experienced social workers. The chapter ends with an exercise to encourage reflection on readers’ own dilemmas and a case for discussion from a social worker in Japan about how best to support a woman and her family.
Sarah Banks
Additional information