The Practice of Moral Action: A Balancing Act for Social Workers

Authors Sabrina Keinemans, Mariël Kanne
Published in Ethics and Social Welfare
Publication date 1 January 2013
Research groups Living and Wellbeing
Type Article


Full text aan te vragen bij auteurs. This article describes the results of qualitative research into the moral issues faced by social work professionals working in projects targeted at teenage mothers. The research is part of the tradition of empirical and practice-driven ethics. The main questions were: How does morality become visible in the social services for teenage mothers and how do social workers deal with the moral dimension of their work? (How) can education, training and peer review offer space for moral reflection? Interviews and group meetings ('focus groups') were held to answer these questions. Nineteen professionals (front-line professionals as well as professionals in executive roles) participated in the research. The findings describe the moral issues and the moral actions of professionals and the organizational context respectively. The results reveal that the everyday practice of social work professionals can raise complex issues inherent to their work and that there is often no explicit reflection on the moral dimension of these issues. The authors argue that there needs to be greater focus on the complexity of moral issues and elaborate on three dimensions of this complexity.


On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Ethics and Social Welfare
Year and volume 7 4
Key words moral issues, Social work, moral reflection
Page range 379-398

Mariël Kanne

Mariel Kanne

Mariël Kanne

  • Researcher
  • Research group: Living and Wellbeing

Living and Wellbeing