Ethics, Accountability and the Social Professions

Book Cover - Ethics AccountabilityBy Sarah Banks
Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN 0333751663

Social workers and other “helping” professionals encountered two major challenges in the late 20th century: managerial and political definitions of procedures and outcomes, and the call for interprofessional and interdisciplinary solutions to social problems. Responses included renewed emphasis on the ethical integrity of professions.

The first half of this book examines diverse philosophies of professional ethics in the context of welfare developments. The second half examines issues in interprofessional work, based on interviews with more than 40 people concerned with young offenders and community safety. The focus is on the effects of services’ restructuring on the notions of professional and public accountability.

The author rethinks what professionalism means in the light of, for example, the blurring of traditional boundaries and activities. She criticises service structures and asks whom do they really serve? She also believes social policy should be evaluated according to human costs and effectiveness.

This is not an easy read; in both intellectual and practical terms it challenges rather than comforts. But it should certainly find a place in graduate training and on social policy courses.

Eric Sainsbury is professor emeritus of social administration, University of Sheffield.

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