The Ethical Foundations of Social Work: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Ethical Foundations of Social Work

1st Edition

By Stephen Cowden, Annie Pullen-Sansfacon


232 pages

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pub: 2012-03-15
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The Ethical Foundations of Social Work provides an engaging, theoretically rigorous and practice-based grounding in social work ethics. The authors examine when, how and why principles and debates historically emerged, and then explicitly map them onto everyday ethical challenges and situations in social work practice. As such, the book promotes an ethically 'conscious' approach whereby principles can be applied flexibly and confidently as tools for critically responding to problems.

Key features:

* 'Real life' case studies illustrate contemporary ethical dilemmas and help explore the process of critically analysing a situation.

* Demonstrates the relationship between ethical theory and practice.

* Shows how contemporary Codes of Practice have emerged from debates.

* Looks at how individuals and groups relate to each other as well as to social institutions.

* Boxed material focuses on key issues and summary points, and further reading supports and extends the reader.

The Ethical Foundations of Social Work is essential reading for social work students and practitioners looking for a thorough grounding in ethical issues and practice. It will also be of interest more widely in social care and the social sciences.


'A committed, accessible and timely text which deserves to be on the reading list of every social work programme. … Pullen and Cowden remind us that social work is first and foremost an ethical profession.' - Iain Ferguson, University of of the West of Scotland

'this is a readable, enjoyable book, and one that deserves to to be widely read' - Steve Rogowski, Professional Social Work

'This text provides an excellent grounding in ethics. While it is aimed primarily at students of social work, it is relevant to nurses and other practitioners in health and social care, especially in its exploration of concepts such as empowerment, human dignity and universalism, and in its examination of professional values.' - Nursing Standard

'A thought-provoking text that masterfully draws on classic and contemporary theory to demonstrate the centrality of conscious ethical reasoning for social work practice today … with currency for students at all levels of study, social work practitioners and those in academe.' - Sandra Drower, University of Winchester

Table of Contents

Part 1: What is Social Work?

Chapter 1 – Social Work Histories

Chapter 2 – Ethics and Values in Social Work

Part 2: The Social Dimensions of Social Work Ethics

Chapter 3 – Power in Social Work

Chapter 4 – The Idea of Empowerment in Social Work

Chapter 5 – Bureaucracy and Social Work

Part 3: Theorising Ethical Practice

Chapter 6 – Respect for the Person, Self-Determination and Idea of Universality: The Kantian Perspective

Chapter 7 – Social Justice: The Ethics of Mill and Rawls

Chapter 8 – Professionalism in Social Work: Character and Relationship-based Approaches to Ethics

About the Authors

Annie Pullen-Sansfaçon is Associate Professor at the Université de Montréal’s School of Social Work, in Canada, and formerly worked at Coventry University and the University of Gloucestershire in the UK.

Stephen Cowden is Senior Lecturer in Social Work in the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies, Coventry University.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Health Care Delivery