Professional-ethical codes in general and special discourse in social work
The effectiveness of social work depends largely on the social worker, his knowledge, experience, personal characteristics and qualities. However, the professional responsibility of a specialist is determined not by him, but by the values and ethical principles adopted by the professional organization - the Association of Social Workers. Ethical principles and values of social work are reflected in the international and national ethical codes of the profession, which serve as a guide for the practical activities of specialists.
Professional-ethical codes of social work have universal and universal provisions and principles, and it should be noted that in the latest versions of the codes, they have become significantly larger. These provisions define social work as a universal phenomenon in the context of the social development of the modern world, which has unique forms of manifestation in various countries. The universal patterns of social work are reflected in Fig. 4.3.
Why are these universal provisions common constant values? Let's start with professional culture. Usually, when a profession develops or develops, people, its practitioners, create their own culture, i.e. a certain set of values, as a rule, corresponding to the structure of ethical norms of a given society. These attitudes are related to the function that members of the profession are called upon to fulfill as their mission, as their role in society. Values of all types of social work are respect for the honor and dignity of a person, the uniqueness and uniqueness of his personality.The American culturologist Clark Whisler singled out nine universal traits inherent in all cultures: speech (language), material features, art, mythology and scientific knowledge, religious practice, family and social system, property, government, war. He called them universal patterns (structures, patterns) of culture. Patterns are also called cultural themes. Some cultures are built around such topics as equality and social justice, the second - individual responsibility and monetary success, the third - military valor and hunting, etc.
The social history of the world community indicates that the emergence of social work responded more to the interests of civil society than to the interests of the individual. The point is that social work initially absorbed universal values that go beyond the interests of specific people in a particular society. These values in many respects predetermine the goal of social work - the harmonization of relationships between individuals, between individuals and social institutions of society, as well as its tasks - to promote social and economic justice, to protect the human right to a decent and free life.
Today, social work around the world is determined by the following target settings:
• promote the normal life of a person, restore, maintain or strengthen the functioning of individuals, families, social groups, organizations and communities;
• plan, develop and implement social policies, services and programs that must meet basic human needs, and also assist specific people in developing their abilities and skills;
• use the means of social protection provided by law;
• constantly improve the qualification and the current system of monitoring the level of professional knowledge of practicing social workers.
Fig. 4.3. Universal patterns of social workProfessional social work that skillfully implements these goals and values in its practical activities has sufficient means to convince the public that it is this particular social institution, which has a well-developed structure of relevant services and organizations, that is authorized by society to solve the problems of people, who need social assistance, and protect their honor and dignity.
The following universal pattern of social work is a system of scientific and practical knowledge. This is the professional knowledge of a social worker about the nature of a person and his social environment, theories and methods of social work, specific professional knowledge and skills.>
Based on the theoretical knowledge, the social worker determines which services and how they will be distributed to clients. Very often, ethical values and beliefs about clients are included in the theoretical foundations, and the duration of the social worker's impacts, for example, may depend on this. For example, the theory of crisis intervention is used for short-term work with clients and is built on the connection of the client's own forces. On the other hand, if someone is using a psychoanalytic perspective, he considers himself an "expert" and will work with the client for a long time, as required by this theoretical school. Different theoretical schools influence the nature of practical work.
The relationship between theory and practice of social work is built in four directions, closely intertwined:
• creating a theory;
• the embodiment of the theory in practice;
• Continuous education of social workers;
• The organization of all types of student practice.
Creating a theory, in turn, involves a combination of the following five criteria:
• an explanation;
• the instrumental aspect;
• the ethical dimension;
• Ability to develop.
Many theoretical schools of social work, known today, have become classic. The majority of modern directions use the so-called eclectic approach, which is built on the basis of the positions of several theories.
In the practice of social work, there are often situations where it is difficult to determine ways to solve problems. Is it possible, then, to rely on practical experience, use real knowledge, or should a decision be made in accordance with abstract values that are not always easy to follow? Knowledge is the result of experience, observation of the world and the person, data and scientific facts available for verification. They can be confirmed or denied. Values are some ideal judgments about the world and the person, which are usually taken for granted, are not disputed. Values can hardly be considered as lying on the surface of phenomena, rather, they are implied, being the basis of our actions, determining our choices and managing our actions. In the principles and standards of the International Federation of Social Workers, ethical knowledge is defined as a necessary part of the social worker's professional activity.
The ability of a professional to act in accordance with ethical standards significantly improves the quality of services offered to clients. To use values and knowledge as guidelines in the practice of social work, it is necessary to correlate them with goals that are desirable for achieving them.
The goal of practical activity must always be correlated with basic professional values. By setting for himself more distant goals, the social worker must first achieve close (private) goals in accordance with the peculiarities and circumstances of the problem. Thus, near goals are considered as a concrete result, which the specialist aspires to communicate with the client.
Knowledge and values affect not only technological, but also ethical aspects of professional activity. In practice, it can be very difficult to separate one from the other. To achieve a specific result, a social worker applies his practical experience, knowledge and skills (technology), but his practice is based on fundamental knowledge and therefore also has an ethical component. In practice, the social worker needs to take into account the differences between values and knowledge for the following reasons:
• values are ideal theoretical categories, while knowledge can be practical;
• the distinction between the concepts values and knowledge helps to avoid collision rates of different cultures;
• Replacement of values with knowledge can lead to negative results or does not give any changes at all.
Finally, the third universal pattern of social work is social recognition or social status of the profession. It can be interpreted as professional training, professional responsibility, ability to convince the public of the usefulness of social work for society as a whole, and as a professional suitability.
Representatives of any profession strive to ensure that society recognizes it as useful and necessary, i.e. seek to acquire a certain status in society. As the social practice shows, it is possible to achieve public recognition only if the graduates become engaged in specific professional activities. However, it is not enough to gain authority in society. It is also necessary to convince the public of the effectiveness and usefulness of the practice of social work for specific people and society as a whole. This can be achieved by delegating some control functions over the activities of social workers to members of the public, which in a sense ensures social security for those members of society who are assisted. The client needs guarantees of the quality of social assistance that only certified specialists can provide, not only endowed with theoretical knowledge and having sufficient level of practical skills, but also possessing special mental qualities, capable and ready to help a person, guided by a sense of charity and philanthropy. Social work is the only profession in which personal qualities (first of all, charity and philanthropy) are the determining criterion of professional suitability, and then knowledge, skills and abilities.
Social workers adhere to a set of values, the key elements of which remain unchanged. This professional activity is characterized by a desire for prosperity, social justice and human dignity.
However, each specific ethical code also has specific, specific provisions bearing the imprint of national culture, established traditions, political and professional practice, which indicates their uniqueness.
The social worker both in theory and in practice often has to make sure that different people differently define the problem and do not treat the same situation in the same way. First in theory, and then in practice, the social worker gets acquainted with the concept of the social problem in different cultures, learns to see the connection between the nature of the social situation and the availability of resources.
According to the American sociologist P. Merton both deviation and absolute agreement with the goals of society and the means to achieve them (conformism) are two chalices of the same scales: the adaptation of people to culture as a system of values and norms. The experience of a person with a crisis, abnormal situation leads to actions, followed by public reprimand, labeling the "deviant".Different cultures and subcultures generate their value orientations, which are expressed in a specific relation to nature, time, space, to the nature of communication, personal freedom, the nature of man himself. Understanding the nature of the normal, rational, rational can be completely different in every culture. All these differences are reflected in professional activity, and the diverse practice of social work in various countries confirms this. On the other hand, as already noted, there are universal traits that can be found in all cultures and subcultures.
The question arises whether it is legitimate to build a hierarchy of cultures, evaluating them as perfect or imperfect, normal or abnormal. Social deviations - deviations from specific cultural norms, from what is considered reasonable - exist in all cultures and subcultures. Such behavior patterns in relation to accepted cultural standards, which are assessed as strange, irrational, unhealthy, unexpected, can create social problems. Deviations can be attributed to special types of rationality, they can be called the norm in any other reference frame, so they say that the concept of the norm relative to the boundary between the norm and the deviation can not always be clearly defined.
On the "stigmatization theory", which appeared in the 50's. XX century. in the framework of symbolic interactionism (G. Becker), even schizophrenia is a socially prescribed disease that develops in a healthy person under the influence of a social environment.
We should not forget that social workers belong to their own culture. Their conceptions of reality, or the construction of reality, the rationality they have adopted, or the interpretation of the reasonable and normal, and their vision of social problems, are at least partly rooted in the system of cultural values and norms that they are accustomed to. However, as professionals, they do not have the right to remain captives of their "cultural points", but are obliged to consider the value system, social deviations and social problems, using critical and analytical approaches.
The professional specificity of all categories of social workers requires them to realize and constantly think about different ways of experiencing and interpreting reality. The serious task of any social worker is to systematically seek theoretical and practical knowledge and constant efforts to expand one's own vision of the world, the desire to recognize what is "behind" obvious. Only in this way new ways of understanding the problem or complex of problems can be discovered, which in turn contributes to the choice of strategy in social work and the solution of problems of the ethical plan.
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