The Values of Change in Social Work

The Values of Change in Social Work

The Values of Change in Social Work

The Values of Change in Social Work


Examining the major developments in social work from moral, philosophical and political perspectives, the highly respected and experienced contributors to this text analyse social work values and place them firmly in a modern, practical context.




We may believe in an intuitive way that values are a vital component of social work, yet give little thought to why they are important or to the characteristics of the relationship between values and social work practice, or indeed to the nature of values themselves. As R. Huws Jones wrote in 1970, 'A man's values are like his kidneys: he rarely knows he has any until they are upset' (Timms 1983:16). In the hurly-burly of current social work practice it is all too possible to respond to immediate pressures without giving much thought to the values implicit in our actions.

Why then are values so important? At least part of the answer may be sought in the complex network of relationships between the social worker and the public. They are first and foremost fellow human beings and citizens of a common state. These two sets of relationships imply the existence of mutual rights and duties. (For example, members of a given state have a mutual obligation, in most circumstances, to obey the law of the land.) The very existence of society and the state is predicated upon such a reciprocal system. In common with other groups, e.g. lawyers, doctors, and teachers, social workers have additional sets of rights and duties. At least three such sets can be identified: those relating to people served by social workers, those relating to their employers, and those relating to the wider profession. Two broad issues arise. First, any additional rights and duties accruing to social workers need to be exercised or carried out according to some widely accepted set of principles. Second, these rights and duties open the very real possibility of conflict between social workers and members of the public, or

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