This article examines what the NASW (National Association of Social Workers) Code of Ethics says about issues faced by contemporary social work practice and considers its implications for the acceptance of social work as a profession. How social work measures up to Flexner’s attribute of a profession “altruistic in motivation” is examined in greater depth. Concern is raised about the growing gap between social work practice and social work ethics. Social workers’ acting more assertively on the social justice responsibilities contained in the code is seen as crucial for the future of the profession.
"In her analysis of the revised NASW code of ethics, Brill states that social work has significantly moved away from the belief that political activity is unprofessional (Brill 2001: 232). And McLaughlin writes that if social work is to survive, it must engage with contemporary debates and seek to shape, as much as it is shaped by, external events (McLaughlin 2007: 186). "
"The conception of social justice " equates individual self-interest with the common good. " The absence of conceptual or historical clarity or agreement among scholars, however, has not deterred some authors from urging the profession to embrace its social justice responsibilities more fully, as required by the revised Code of Ethics (Brill, 2001; NASW, ), or to pursue professional unity as a means of reviving the field's interest in social justice goals (Haynes & White, 1999). This author would argue, however, that without this conceptual clarity it is difficult to understand how the Council on Social Work Education can require all social work programs to educate students to pursue economic and social justice or how NASW can enforce its ethical imperative that " social workers promote social justice " and " challenge social injustice " (NASW, 1996, pp. 1, 5; see also Cox, 2001; Council on Social Work Education, 2001; Van Soest, 1994; Reeser & Leighninger, 1990). "
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