You are here

Ethics and Law for Social Workers

Ethics and Law for Social Workers

© 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 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
September 22, 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

Whilst students need to understand the relevant legal frameworks for social work practice, this text supports them to explore the important relationship between law and practice, in the context of the range of not uncommon practice dilemmas. It is highly recommended to students completing the Rights, Justice and Equality Module.

Mr Peter Simcock
Social Work (Stoke), Staffordshire University
December 17, 2015

Sample Materials & Chapters

Introduction - But I Want to Be a Social Worker, Not a philosopher!

Preview this book

For instructors

Review and Desk copies for this title are available digitally via VitalSource.

Request e-review copy

If you require a print review copy, please call: (800) 818-7243 ext. 6140 or email

Select a Purchasing Option

Electronic version
Prices from

ISBN: 9780857029102

ISBN: 9780857029096

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.