Title: Social Work Values, Participation and Empowerment

Essay by aalim3 April 2005

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With reference to social work practice, discuss of the following.

The value base of social work practice

Using a service user group of your choice to illustrate your answer.

Social work value is a phrase that is difficult to define. Values can take a number of meanings depending on the usage and context of the setting.

In everyday language values is used to refer and describe one or all of the following: religious, moral, political or ideological principles, beliefs or attitudes.

Values in social work context refers to a set of fundamental moral/ethical principles to which social workers are/should/ought to be committed, for example, Code of Conduct for Social Workers as set by General Social Care Council.

To be able to answer the question fully we need to explain what we mean by social work value base and from where the values have originated.

So much literature on social work values has concentrated on formulating lists of principles about how social workers should interact with service users.

Most of the lists of principles are underpinned by the basic principle 'respect for persons', which can be argued is the foundation stone of social work values. (Plant 1970)

The principle of 'respect for persons' originates from Kant, an eighteenth century German philosopher.

So what do we mean by a principle? Beauchamp (1996, pp. 80-1) defines principle as

a fundamental standard of conduct on which many other

standard and judgements depend. A principle is an essential

norm in a system of thought or belief, forming a basis of

moral reasoning in that system.

It is also important to distinguish a principle from a rule. A rule is more specific and narrow in scope. Whereas, a principle is much broader in its scope.

Social work derives it value base primarily from four basic...