Journal Article

Social Work Values: The Moral Core of the Profession

Cynthia Bisman

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 34, issue 1, pages 109-123
Published in print January 2004 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online January 2004 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bch008
Social Work Values: The Moral Core of the Profession

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This paper argues that an emphasis on the profession’s knowledge base has come at the expense of attention to social work's values and mission. The discussion examines the relative importance of knowledge, values and skills in an effort to understand the shifting emphases of the profession within a social and historical context. The consequences of these shifts for the profession and for its relationship to society are also considered. Concepts from the intellectual struggles of social work and from an interdisciplinary perspective suggest ways to ground the profession’s skills and knowledge in its values of human dignity, service to humanity and social justice. At its core, social work must respond to the moral imperative of caring for the neediest among us. This entails re-claiming and building on the commitment of early social workers ‘to work with forces that make for progress . . . to forward the advance of the . . . common people’ (Richmond, 1899, p. 151). The paper concludes that for social work to have a future, the profession must take pride in its moral core, define its contemporary meaning and work for the social welfare in ways that are relevant to both social workers and non-social workers.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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