Beyond Ethics: Professionalism and Social Belonging in Social Workers’ Moral Deliberations
Assor, Yael, and Yehuda C. Goodman
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Taylor and Francis Online
In professional therapeutic settings, care-providers are required to work through dilemmas in light of a professional ethics that demands the suppression of other aspects that may inform their moral experiences. Drawing upon in-depth conversations with Jewish-Israeli female social workers who talked about dilemmas at work, we analyse how they carry out such deliberations. When recounting their dilemmas, social workers relied on shared professional principles for justifying their decisions, but upon closer examination, differences were apparent in their decisions. Whereas religious (observant) social workers tended to follow professional regulations, seculars (non-observant) favoured clients’ interests and took some liberty in bending rules. Accordingly, we argue that while care-providers follow shared professional ethics, they still implicitly adhere to the local moral worlds that inform their moral experiences. We analyse this discrepancy in relation to the interface between a modernist professional ethos and acknowledged and unacknowledged motives that pragmatically participate in professionals’ deliberations.