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‘Care is not a dirty word!’ Enacting an ethic of care in social work practice


Hay, J, Care is not a dirty word!' Enacting an ethic of care in social work practice, European Journal of Social Work, 22, (3) pp. 365-375. ISSN 1369-1457 (2019) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

DOI: doi:10.1080/13691457.2017.1399253


While ‘care’ has been positioned as a core value of the social work profession since its inception, the increasing influence of neoliberal rationalities have placed care on the periphery of social work theory and practice. Social work scholars have promoted the incorporation of ethic of care theory into direct social work practice as a means of countering the effects of a context that is antithetical to caring practice. I present findings from my Australian study, providing an original contribution by presenting concrete understandings of how social workers enact care in everyday direct social work practice. The study was guided by a grounded theory approach. Fifteen social workers were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. The interviews were analysed using constructivist grounded theory techniques. ‘Meeting needs’, ‘just being there for clients’, ‘building relationships with clients’, and ‘going the extra mile’ were some of the ways that participants demonstrated care in their practice. Constraints on care were challenged and resisted by ‘taking a stand’, ‘bending the rules’, ‘picking battles’, ‘justifying care’, and ‘taking risks’.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Ethics of care, social work, direct practice
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Social work
Research Field:Social work not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Hay, J (Dr Jenny Hay)
ID Code:119723
Year Published:2019 (online first 2017)
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2017-08-04
Last Modified:2021-10-27

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