Values are central to social work practice. This is inevitable in a profession that is primarily concerned with the way people treat one another and live their lives in society. The statutory element of the social work role means that practitioners have a wide range of responsibilities in relation to formal legal rules about right and wrong ways of behaving. They also work with many less formal social expectations or ‘norms’ about the kinds of behaviour and views that are considered acceptable or unacceptable. These include social workers’ own expectations and those of their profession. Working constantly, as social workers do, with individuals, families, groups and communities in relation to the things that they believe to be important further adds to the sense of social work as a ‘value laden’ profession (Hugman 2007). Values, then, are implicated in almost everything that social workers do. What is more, values underpin and give meaning to practice and are part of what defines and unites the profession in the UK and across the world It is therefore not surprising that, as Dominic says above, values get talked about a lot in social work education.
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