Social workers’ reflections on ethics in relation to adoption in the UK: Everywhere but nowhere?

Brid Featherstone, Anna Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Empirical research with social workers exploring their understandings and use of codes or ethical theories in practice remains under-developed in the UK. This paper, based on the British Association of Social Work (BASW) commissioned Enquiry into the role of the social worker in adoption with a focus on ethics and human rights, provides an important contribution in this context. The Enquiry engaged with a range of stakeholders and explored their perspectives on the adoption process, but the primary focus of this paper is on how ethics were understood and discussed by social workers. One hundred and five social workers participated in the Enquiry through questionnaires, interviews and group discussions and a thematic analysis of their data revealed important findings. For example, the social workers made no explicit reference to codes of ethics or specific ethical theories. However, some of the themes that emerge from the analysis support discussions in what is now a substantial international literature on the importance of recognizing ‘ethics work’ by social workers (Banks, 2016). Weinberg’s (2009) explorations of moral distress and ethical trespass are also important and underdeveloped concepts that resonate with themes from the Enquiry and could support more ethically enquiring cultures within organisations and more broadly.
LanguageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Early online date9 Apr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Apr 2019

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Ethics
social worker
moral philosophy
Ethical Theory
Codes of Ethics
Empirical Research
Social Work
group discussion
Social Workers
empirical research
bank
social work
human rights
stakeholder
Organizations
Interviews
questionnaire
interview

Cite this

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title = "Social workers’ reflections on ethics in relation to adoption in the UK: Everywhere but nowhere?",
abstract = "Empirical research with social workers exploring their understandings and use of codes or ethical theories in practice remains under-developed in the UK. This paper, based on the British Association of Social Work (BASW) commissioned Enquiry into the role of the social worker in adoption with a focus on ethics and human rights, provides an important contribution in this context. The Enquiry engaged with a range of stakeholders and explored their perspectives on the adoption process, but the primary focus of this paper is on how ethics were understood and discussed by social workers. One hundred and five social workers participated in the Enquiry through questionnaires, interviews and group discussions and a thematic analysis of their data revealed important findings. For example, the social workers made no explicit reference to codes of ethics or specific ethical theories. However, some of the themes that emerge from the analysis support discussions in what is now a substantial international literature on the importance of recognizing ‘ethics work’ by social workers (Banks, 2016). Weinberg’s (2009) explorations of moral distress and ethical trespass are also important and underdeveloped concepts that resonate with themes from the Enquiry and could support more ethically enquiring cultures within organisations and more broadly.",
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