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Durham University

Policy, Professions and Communities Research Group


Publication details for Professor Sarah Banks

Banks, S. & Williams, R. (2005). Accounting for Ethical Difficulties in Social Welfare Work: Issues, Problems and Dilemmas. British Journal of Social Work 35(7): 1005-1022.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper is a preliminary exploration of social welfare practitioners’ accounts of ‘ethically difficult situations’. It describes variations in the ethical vocabulary and form of these accounts. Analysis of practitioners’ own accounts (as opposed to ‘textbook’ cases) draws attention to the ways they construct events, actions and qualities of character as ethically significant and highlights the qualitative distinctiveness of ethical dilemmas, where seemingly irresolvable choices leave a residue of moral loss, regret or guilt.