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Ethics and Law for Social Workers

Ethics and Law for Social Workers

November 2015 | 200 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
How do social workers in the UK legal context act ethically? What do we understand by ethics and how does social work law relate to it? Social work practice in all countries incorporates a clear, unstinting commitment to social justice, but what is social justice?


Using an applied, practice-based and refreshingly 'real' approach, this text bridges the gap between law and ethics. Each chapter opens with a case study which considers ethical dilemmas in real life practice. Chapters have been designed to help students strengthen their critical reflection skills, encouraging consideration of the legal and ethical dimensions of social work generally and in personal practice. Topics such as care proceedings, adoption, community care, youth justice, mental capacity and accountability explore how understanding and application are equally important.

Introduction - But I want to be a social worker, not a philosopher!
Judging actions or people?
Social workers, social justice and the law
Accountability, ethics and the law
Protecting children or supporting parents?
Whose future? The ethics of compulsory adoption law
Youth justice
Community care and the ethics of resource allocation
Making decisions on behalf of other people: promoting the best interests of vulnerable adults
Acting legally, acting ethically

This book offers a stimulating range of ethical theories and thought-provoking cases. Robert Johns writes with clarity and careful attention to what it all means in practice, for real social workers doing the real job. It will stretch and support readers to reflect thoughtfully and practically about their work and its wider contexts.

Professor Jonathan Dickens
University of East Anglia

Robert Johns’ Ethics and Law for Social Workers provides a critical and accessible approach to the legal knowledge and analytical skills needed by social workers. With critical thinking exercises, case studies and contemporary case material, it offers an excellent introduction to ethical theory and key underpinning concepts such as social justice, accountability and professionalism. Social work students will find it an invaluable study aid, and social workers a good way of revisiting the legal and ethical basis for practice.

Penelope Welbourne
Associate Professor in Social Work at Plymouth University

This book is a very welcome addition to the literature on law, ethics and social work. The author places the spotlight confidently on the essential legal and moral dilemmas of professional practice, making these complex matters highly accessible and bringing remarkable clarity of vision to the intricacies of professional decision-making.  His analysis will be much valued by students and practitioners alike.

Professor Suzy Braye
Associate Professor in Social Work and Social Care at the University of Sussex

The strength of this book., ultimately, lies in helping social workers understand the relationship between law, ethics, and social justice. It is a valuable addition to the literature, and one that I have recommended to the students I teach. It could also be of benefit to law students and lawyers working in areas of social justice, such as Family Law. 

David Law
Scottish Legal Action Group (SCOLAG) Journal

A most useful insight into the application of ethics and values concerning the law in social work.

Dr David Galley
Department of Social Work, Southampton Solent University
December 10, 2021

This is an essential text describing the professional dilemmas in complex social work cases enhancing practical critical thinking skills with underpinning theories ethics and social justice

Dr Andy Wills
Faculty of Health & Social Work, University of Plymouth
April 10, 2016

This is an excellent book to enable students to explore the ethical dilemmas associated with the law in social work.

Dr Audrey Roulston
Social Work Department, Queen's University Belfast
July 20, 2016

This is an excellent book for MA and BSc students on the social work course. It provides a clear and nuanced reading of the ethical tensions in social work practice whilst offering practical insights for students and practitioners alike.

I will be recommending it to every cohort next year!

Mr Sean Brockbank
Faculty of Health, Social Work & Educ, Northumbria University
June 8, 2016

Excellent information for those intending to enter the world of Social Work.

Mrs Pam Lavender
Access, South Staffordshire College
May 10, 2016

The chapter on mental capacity decision-making is very useful for the student Best Interests Assessor's on my module. It links the law in this area to ethical theory and the implications for their professional practice. Timely and pertinent.

Mrs Rachel Hubbard
School of Health and Life Sciences , University of the West Of England
April 2, 2016

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