Ethics on the agenda

The ethical aspects of social work have been an important area of attention since the start of the Innovation of Social Work research group. The first goal of this line of research is to establish a broad acceptance for the theme of normative professionalism. Up to now, this aspect has been in danger of being ignored due to market-place pressures and a bureaucracy that requires short-term and result-oriented programmes in accordance with fixed protocols. But a considered formation of moral values requires reflection time as well as space to form long-term action plans. This is because every situation is different and overly rapid judgements can lead to programmes and practices that can be meddling and paternalistic. That is why this issue needs close attention, within organisations, within related professional groups and within society at large. The research group seeks to contribute to this discussion.

Strengthening ethical involvement

The second goal of this line of research is to help organisations and professionals give the formation of moral values a firm place within their work. Obviously, we cannot tell anyone what is right and wrong, but we can support professionals in the reflection on their actions and in the accountability of that action. We can also help organisations to create the right conditions for this process. We do this by developing knowledge and methodologies in this area of work and offering these insights in various ways to the professional field. We also contribute to the development of ethical jurisprudence within organisations and professional groups. For example, based on research into moral dilemmas and the formation of moral values in outreach work, we developed the model of ethical actorship. We also developed an associated website with reflection tools and methods for moral deliberation for social professionals. For more information, visit ethiekwerk.hu.nl.