Ethical Decision-Making of Social Welfare Workers in the Transition of Services: The Ethics of Care and Justice Perspectives
Juujärvi, Soile; Kallunki, Elina; Luostari, Heidi (2020)
Informa UK Limited
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Juujärvi S., Kallunki E., Luostari H., (2020). Ethical Decision-Making of Social Welfare Workers in the Transition of Services: The Ethics of Care and Justice Perspectives. , Informa UK Limited.
It is argued that besides the ethic of justice, the ethic of care is essential for social work ethics, and these approaches need to be fused to meet contemporary challenges of New Public Management in public services. The present study explored social welfare workers’ ethical decision-making in restructured organisations in Finland. A total of 111 social counsellors and social workers reported a work-related ethical dilemma and its resolution. In ethical decision-making, participants used predominantly justice-based reasoning, complemented by considerations of care. Dilemmas related to clients’ needs, reported mainly by social counsellors, invoked care-focused reasoning, whereas dilemmas related to applying rules and laws, the most typical for social workers, invoked exclusively justice-focused reasoning. Professionals aimed to act in the best interests of clients, challenging unjust or harmful rules and procedures generated by organisational changes. The ethic of care was explicated through maintaining relationships with clients to secure their access to services, and taking their particularities into account when using professional discretion. It is concluded that as a more recognised ethic of welfare professionals, the ethic of care would provide the means to enhance the implementation of social justice as a constructive response to current organisational demands and reforms in public services.
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