Journal Article

Communication, Recognition and Social Work: Aligning the Ethical Theories of Habermas and Honneth

Stan Houston

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 39, issue 7, pages 1274-1290
Published in print October 2009 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online April 2008 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcn054
Communication, Recognition and Social Work: Aligning the Ethical Theories of Habermas and Honneth

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Summary

The modern world is replete with ethical challenges of Orwellian proportions. The violation of human rights and misrecognition of identities are two of the most pressing examples. In this paper, the ethical theories of Habermas and Honneth are aligned as a way of addressing these specific challenges within social work. It is suggested that these theories are complementary, mutually rectifying and concordant at the meta-ethical level of analysis. The alignment is also justified, pragmatically, through the construction of three hypothetical vignettes demonstrating different kinds of practice dilemmas. The need for egalitarian communication and the imperative to recognize human identity in all its dimensions subsequently emerge as the two foundation stones for ethical deliberation in social work.

Keywords: Ethics; critical social theory; communication; identity

Journal Article.  6932 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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