Social Workers as 'Strong Evaluators': rethinking moral sources and professional identity

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This paper argues that adherence to an ethical stance in social work is one of its definining strengths and something that makes it both distinctive and progressive. Social work refuses to drop the notion that society can be a vehicle for the translation of private troubles into public concerns and the demoncractically generated search for community, solidarity and the good life. It is against the hardening drift of neoliberal politics that this paper situates the signficance of social work in terms of the "practice of value". The starting point for this analysis derives from the writings of the communitarian philosoper Charles Taylor and especially his idea that human beings lead thier lives and assess them in light of broad ethical standards. The paper asks why social workers are committed to ethical practice through an examinaiton of Taylor's conception of "strong" versus "weak" evaluators.It looks at the way we can bring theory and practice together in accounting for aspects of professional
identity and how this provides a basis for resisting the malaise of neoliberal capitalism. Starting from an actor oriented
perspective, which holds to the view that human beings are essentially embodied agents who actively encounter things
that concern them, the paper broadens this framework to examine the moral sources of social work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-151
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Social Science Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2015


  • social work
  • ethical judgement
  • professional identity
  • strong evaluators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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