Healy - universalism v. cultural relativism in SW ethics
Globalization makes this debate increasingly relevant to SW re: global human rights
Universalism and relativism are contested in HR, especially the rights of oppressed groups
The universalist/deontologist school of ethics stresses the overriding importance of fixed moral rules, arguing that an
action is inherently right or wrong and therefore ethical rules are universal.
Universalist view that all members of the family share the same inalienable rights
The teleological/relativist school holds that ethical principles are contingent on context, ethical decisions, ethical
decisions vary on the basis of the context in which they are made
Cultural relativist argue that culture is the sole source of validity of moral rights and rules, there are no common
standards just culturally specific ones
The 1994 ISFW Code of Ethics identified a middle ground with the belief that universal rights/values can coexist with
the importance and relevance of culture, by stating that the first purpose of the IFSW Declaration of Ethical Principles is to
formulate a set of basic principles for social work, which can be adapted to cultural& social settings
Issues arise in social work especially in situations regarding equality claims for women, children, ethnic, religious
and sexual minorities or involving tension over individualism over communalism
- When is “different” just different and when is different wrong?
-universalism vs. relativism
-ethics are guidelines for practice, what doing the right thing is
- SW ethics are about social justice and human rights
-how can we promote social justice in our practice?
-theory vs. wisdom vs. analogue vs. art
-we need to incorporate all 4 into social work, they inform each other
we need to account for our cultural and historical backgrounds in order to best support individuals, families, and communities.
The service provider shall start where the service user is, and incorporate their knowledge and live experiences. Note: Can this be
controversial when it comes to the Code of Ethics.
Social Constructionism: Our values and social upbringing all influence how we understand the world, and determine how we act and
treat others in society. These are all pre-existing values.
Narrative Theory: Creating a story of one's lied experiences. Everyone has a story. Offers a meaning and a purpose.
Cognitive Theory: How the mind works to create meaning and truth out of our lived experiences. To understand
peoples behaviors we must first understand how those experiences are interpreted.
Moral Theory: Social Workers use a caring perspective to guide their practice.
Faith and Spirituality: What people believe is important stemming from their spiritual beliefs and religious backgrounds.
Feminist: Throughout history how women's rights have evolved and attempted to give women meaning for their lives. Personal
issues are more likely to be a public issue- for ex. childcare as discussed in class. How do we move forward to improve these global
issues is a major question.
Social Work practice stems from Charity Organization Societies ad Settlement House Movement, and incorporates theoretical
understanding and educational knowledge, as well as practical experience.
Lundy - more history/ theories/ movements historically founded from 2 different views 1) COS - casework, Mary Richmond, motivation of social duty 2) Settlement house
movement, Jane Addams, focused on broader social issues, community focused
1st school founded at new yorks school in Philanthropic work
has been a struggle to establish social work as a profession
diagnostic and functional schools- individual approach, focused on the present not past, help people help themselves... functionalism
fundamental techniques: social case work, community organization, group work, social research and administration
during the depression the "rank and file" movement challenged the system infused with social analysis and activism
depression solidified the need of the social work profession and social services
after WW2 anti- communist/socialist movements deferred social action approach and encouraged primarily case work focus
functional systems Theory: challenged psychoanalytic, connects person and problem with environment, individuals are arranged in a
variety of units (subsystems)
Marxist systems theory: individual problems within common experience explored how they are socially constructed, not trying to
force people into the capitalist ideal box
Postmodernism: truth is a product of language and social disclosure not objective or universal, help people become authors of their
Historical Developments in Social Work
Increasing poverty and inequality.
CAS: 1891 J.J Kelso
COS: Increase poverty lead to increase need in micro level case-by-case service
Settlement: Jane Addams, macro level service through social change advocacy
Group work, organizing community, mobilization of social reform on various social welfare issues.
Diagnostic Schools: 1920's - 1960's, micro level service, Freudian psychoanalytic principles, counselling.
Child and family agencies, "clinical practice"
Focusing on the individuals behaviour, development, subconscious, thoughts, feelings, and concerns.
Based on psychology and personality theory of Otto Rank, considered more humanistic and self-deterministic.
Emphasis on client-worker relationship.
Focus on the present.'
Disregard for advocacy on behalf of client, simply focus on client's issues.
Purpose: Collaboration, professional standards, training, opinion, research, and employment.
Specialization and Fragmentation
School social work
Development of generic casework model
Identified that the following should be universally taught in curriculum: fundamental of social work techniques and casework,
community organization, group work, social research, and administration.
Rank and File Movement
Furthering social movement and challenging capitalist system
1940's -50's, Growing emphasis on professional associations, education, and theoretical core.
Shifting the Focus to Case Management: So much emphasis on individual at the expense of social conditions
1955, National Association of Social Workers formed
Masters Programs redesigned away from specialization towards generic curriculum such as social welfare policy, human growth and
development, casework, group work, and community organizing.
Continued concern for fragmentation
Shifting away from counselling
Viewing the client within a social context through the lens of Marxist and Functional systems theory
Views society as system, all interacting in harmony, one area affects whole system. Family, work, school, church, welfare
Radical, critical, or structural social work
Analysis of society and social problems, how individual problems are socially constructed.
Defining difference between social workers calling themselves Generalist or Specialist.
Specialized knowledge and skills are always influenced by the setting and situation INSTEAD of university preparation
Micro (direct) vs. Macro (indirect)
Micro (direct) consist of counselling, advocating, resources and information, and making referrals
Macro (indirect) consist of policy analysis, administration, program development and evaluation, and community planning.
Narrative Practice, Michael White: client telling their own stories about their lives and deconstructing and revision of the problematic
-AOP should be central to social work
-AOP is an umbrella term that encompasses social justice, feminism, anti-racism, Marxism, structural analysis, etc
-social work should be about community engagement and change
-SW values: equity, inclusion, empowerment, community
-skills and analysis should always inform each other (praxis)
-importance of multiple analyses, "multiple practice frameworks", not just AOP
-importance of sharing power, collaborative approaches to helping, not power-over relationships
-person and environment
Campbell's article addresses anti-oppressive social work practice, arguing that it is an "appropriate and
effective framework for social work education that is uniquely suited to realizing the mission and potential of
social work in light of current social and political realities" (Campbell, 2003).
AOP encompasses feminist, anti-racist, critical, radical, liberatory and structural frameworks, with values of
equity, empowerment, community, and inclusion. AOP can be see, then, as a practice heavily rooted in social-
change. Structural understanding of human behavour, elimination of oppression and discrimination, and a
vision of an egalitarian future are all important factors in AOP.
In terms of curriculum, educators teach concepts that foster an understanding of "the pervasive, complex, and
intersecting nature of relationships of oppression and domination, an exploration of one's personal contribution
to such relationships, and the development of knowledge and skills to change these relation ships" (Campbell,
2003). A key issue highlighted in this reading is the challenging of "expert" knowledge; recognizing that various clients
have their own valuable "ways of knowing." Education in AOP also yields the ability for students to work in
collaboration with various institutions, clientele and groups effectively while implementing key concepts of
Skill development, contrary to some arguments, is still important to AOP. "What distinguishes an anti-
oppressive approach is not the absence of skill development, but the insistence that interpersonal interventions
always be understood in the light of larger societal constructs" (Campbell, 2003). The idea that many forms of
practice be studied is integral to AOP, as different methods work more effectively than others in various
Some challenges outlined by Campbell in regards to AOP include "guarding against over-simplification and
reductionism" (Campbell, 2003), and strengthening the theoretical framework (complexity of understanding
human behaviour in relation to structural contexts).
AOP is largely a means of facing and dealing with various social realities; issues such as poverty, violence,
disparity of income and wealth, increased globalization, privatization of social services, racism, homophobia,
etc. "Social workers are offered the opportunity to become adept at analyzing and intervening in light of these
actualities" (Campbell, 2003).
AOP allows social workers to address two of the primary social work missions simultaneously (promotion of
social justice, and welfare of all individuals), because it focuses on both structural factors, and personal factors.
Tester part a
-AOP should NOT be central to social work - it is just one tool we can use, and sometimes it limits practice
-it creates a false dichotomy that everyone is ether oppressed or an oppressor: this is restrictive
-it pathologizes oppression, makes it an inescapable label
-telling people they are oppressed is oppressive in itself... people should name their own experience
-AOP tries to make all "isms" into the same oppression... its analysis is too generic and doesn't allow for nuance, real lived
experience, intersectionality and diversity
-social inequality isn't necessarily about oppression & identities.... it could just be about justice/injustice
-AOP is anti-postmodern because it itself is a meta-theory (it sees itself as the only true theory)
-AOP is NOT one-size-fits-all... we need many ideas to inform social work
Tester Part B Rebuttal
-we need to focus on the "pro-" not the "anti-"
-social work should always be pro-social justice and pro-human rights
-AOP is not the one truth, but one of many lenses/approaches we should use
- Anti-Oppressive Practice emphasizes difference (in relation to the many nations and tribes in a Mozambican
- Multiple forms of oppression give rise to multiple forms and needs for political expression which is "Identity
- We must think critically to break down the problems in Carolyn Campbell's argument for AOP
- AOP is not the "one" truth, but is unique and best suited to help practitioners
- There is divisive as well as unifying potential within theories. - It becomes complicated when we are seeking to celebrate difference while create space at the theoretical
- He means that for example, in Mozambique, it is important to find common ground without diminishing
- AOP fails to provide adequate practice framework where we confront differences and common needs.
- Must realize that multiple theoretical perspectives have something to offer. (this is more respectful and
- Everything we do has to be in terms of current political and social realities
- We need to emphasi