Unsettling professional code: relationship boundaries and ethical possibilities

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Troy A. Martin (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Kathy Hytten

Abstract: My dissertation addresses ethics in social professions through a conceptual and empirical study of how professional boundaries and codes organize relationship. Central research questions include: "How might one's sense of responsibility to another person shrink under professional codes, procedures or good boundaries? Does professionalism lower the stakes of professional relationship by restricting involvement and avoiding risk?" After developing an interdisciplinary, theoretical account of professionalism and normative ethics, I bring care ethics and postmodern critique together to challenge the foundations of professional ethics. While providing important protections, professional norms and codes of ethics narrow the scope of what is "ethical" and limit ethical possibility. Emphases on "do no harm" and risk-aversion lower the stakes of professional relationship. My queer reading of ethics code discloses how professional ethics are treated as stable knowledge. I argue that professionalism ascribes the condition of being ethical rather than promoting active social processes and pragmatic ways of doing ethics. My qualitative study of professional teachers and social workers who became "parents" to youth they met in professional contexts grounds my theoretical and philosophical inquiry in experiential narrative. I describe an ethical periphery where practitioners make "positive boundary crossings" and suggest that professional ethics is a matter of deliberated action rather than identity. Mutual relations and "elastic boundaries" invite more creative and pragmatic problem solving and make ethical discourse more relevant and meaningful in everyday professional practice.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Critical social work, Educational studies, Ethics, Postmodern, Professionalism, Teachers
Social service $x Moral and ethical aspects
Social workers $x Professional ethics
Social work with youth $x Moral and ethical aspects

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