Beyond Ethics: Professionalism and Social Belonging in Social Workers’ Moral Deliberations

Yael Assor*, Yehuda C. Goodman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In professional therapeutic settings, care-providers are required to work through dilemmas in light of a professional ethics that demands the suppression of other aspects that may inform their moral experiences. Drawing upon in-depth conversations with Jewish-Israeli female social workers who talked about dilemmas at work, we analyse how they carry out such deliberations. When recounting their dilemmas, social workers relied on shared professional principles for justifying their decisions, but upon closer examination, differences were apparent in their decisions. Whereas religious (observant) social workers tended to follow professional regulations, seculars (non-observant) favoured clients’ interests and took some liberty in bending rules. Accordingly, we argue that while care-providers follow shared professional ethics, they still implicitly adhere to the local moral worlds that inform their moral experiences. We analyse this discrepancy in relation to the interface between a modernist professional ethos and acknowledged and unacknowledged motives that pragmatically participate in professionals’ deliberations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)168-187
Number of pages20
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Israel
  • Moral experience
  • professional ethics
  • secular and religious Jews
  • social work


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