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Constructing moral responses to risk: a framework for hopeful social work practice


Stanford, SN, Constructing moral responses to risk: a framework for hopeful social work practice, British Journal of Social Work, 41, (8) pp. 1514-1531. ISSN 1468-263X (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2011 Oxford University Press

DOI: doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcr030


The progressive politics of social work is threatened as social workers confront the widening gulf between professional ideals and the realities of their practice within the morally conservative context of neo-liberal risk society. Identifying how to subvert the despondency and despair that such a climate evokes, and being able to connect to an increased sense of professional agency, is urgently needed. This paper provides insight into how this can be achieved by considering how social workers, who participated in an Australian study, determined a moral response that was 'other'-focused when faced with the dilemma of whether to respond to their clients or their own sense of being 'at risk' within their respective practice contexts. The significance of these findings is that they reinstate social workers as active and purposive, as opposed to powerless and despondent, moral agents in the complex and fraught domains in which they respond to the ubiquitous presence of risk. The article considers how this framework can assist social workers in their day-to-day efforts to maintain their professional focus and values.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:risk, social work, neo-liberalism, morals and ethics
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Social work
Research Field:Counselling, wellbeing and community services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Behaviour and health
UTAS Author:Stanford, SN (Professor Sonya Stanford)
ID Code:75620
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:36
Deposited By:Sociology and Social Work
Deposited On:2012-02-07
Last Modified:2016-09-30
Downloads:3 View Download Statistics

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