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Durham University

Policy, Professions and Communities Research Group


Publication details for Professor Sarah Banks

Banks, S. (2008). Critical commentary: social work ethics. British Journal of Social Work 38(6): 1238-1249.

Author(s) from Durham


This short article explores the expanding and contested terrain of social work ethics, considering the form and content of future areas for development. It charts the broadening of the field beyond a focus on professional codes of ethics, principle-based theories, difficult cases and decision-making models towards more embedded and situated approaches to ethics in professional life. The potential for further empirical research into ethical issues in social work, including how practitioners conceptualize and handle ethical difficulties, is noted, alongside the scope for focused studies and monographs drawing on moral, political and religious philosophy to examine particular theoretical approaches (such as virtue ethics or the ethics of care) or to develop new ways of approaching ethics in social work, drawing on its radical, critical and transformatory traditions.