English Summaries (01/2021)
Care or justice? Ethical problems and solving strategies among health and social care professionals
The aim of this study was to examine ethical problems that health and social care professionals encounter in their work within the ethics of care and justice framework. Participants were 137 bachelor-degree professionals who reported a real-life moral conflict through a web-based survey. Data were analyzed using the Taxonomy of Real-Life Dilemmas, Moral Orientations, and thematic content analysis. Reported problems represented seven types of dilemmas; of these, applying rule and internal conflict emerged as new. With regard to client work, responding to the needs of others was the most common type of dilemma, and with regard to the work community, respectively, reacting to transgressions was the most common. Responding to the needs of others was the sole type of dilemma that focused on the ethic of care, but care-based arguments were also present in varying degrees in other types of dilemmas. We conclude that the ethic of care is a crucial part of health and social care professionals’ work, but it is regulated and constrained by laws, procedures and organizational rules. When solving diverse ethical problems, professionals seek to balance demands of care and justice. The ethic of care should be taken better into account when developing practices in working life.
Keywords: dilemma, ethic of care, ethic of justice, health care, moral problem solving, moral reasoning, professionals, social services
Virtues in social work – What factors challenge the actualization of employees’ virtues?
Virtues are the characteristics that make an individual practice morally good actions. Consequently, an employee’s virtues are those characteristics that make the employee act morally in her/his occupation. In this study, we studied employee views of factors connected to the actualization of virtues in social work. In recent years, there has been a lot of debate about the deteriorating possibilities for social workers to do their work ethically; therefore, it is important to identify the factors that influence the actualization of virtues in social work. Enabling virtuous action may also have a positive influence on employees’ work related well-being and work performance. The study is based on qualitative interview data (N = 38) collected in spring 2016 from the social services of two cities in Finland. The study shows that, according to employees, the factors that challenge the actualization of virtues are: job strain (e.g., time pressure and financial constraints), factors involving the employee (e.g., exhaustion, personal problems), factors involving the clients (e.g., aggression, dishonesty) and factors associated to the work community (lack of support, conflicting instructions).
Keywords: employees’ virtues, social work, ethics
Morality and perspective-taking in the history classroom: Students’ views
This article explores connections between Finnish 14–15-year-old students’ historical perspective taking (historical empathy), and notions of morality and history teaching. The students (N = 160) were asked to explain and judge actors’ decisions in historical situations and justify their opinion on whether moral questions should be discussed in the history classroom. The students’ views on connections between history teaching and morality were categorized in five categories. Morality was not seen as a part of history teaching, or morality was seen as self-evident, in that it does not require separate teaching. Further, discussions on morality were regarded as too sensitive for the classroom, or as important for personal and societal development. Students’ responses reflect the different dimensions and stages of young people’s moral thinking in research on moral development. Perspective taking was more nuanced in students’ answers when they were asked to consider the position of one of the named actors in the historical situation, in comparison to when they were asked to imagine themselves in the given situation. How nuanced perspective taking was did not relate to whether moral questions were considered to be a relevant part of history teaching. Only the students who did not take a stand (or did not justify their stand) took clearly fewer perspectives than other students. Most of the students took perspective and set themselves in the historical actors’ situation, irrespective of how they saw the role of morality in history teaching.
Keywords: history teaching, ethics in history, moral education
Collaborative construction and handling of a moral dilemma in a consultation meeting concerning development of workplace collaboration
Organizational consultants that rely on participative and dialogical methods face situations where consultees give contradictory views on work and development needs. In these situations it may be challenging to continue the dialogue and conversation may get stuck in polarized conflict. In turn, this may make it difficult to fulfil the aim of promoting new ways of thinking. In this article, we demonstrate how discourses that construct moral orders in contradictory ways collide and promote this kind of situation in a consultation meeting. The study data comprised of an audio recording of one consultation meeting and its transcription. Data was analyzed by using concepts of moral order and discursive positioning. We make visible how discourses that the consultees relied on produced moral orders in contradictory ways, and how struggle between discourses of autonomy and relationality produced moral dilemma. We consider how the consultant treated this dilemma as a double task by inviting the consultees to continue dialogue, at the same time, protecting participants’ faces. What followed was discussion where discourses were modified and produced in new, less demanding, ways. New concepts and metaphors allowing for talk about duties for collaboration — without threating identities of the participants — were brought into the conversation. By bringing the concept of moral order into the field of organizational studies, our study provides conceptual tools for consultants and other agents working with organizations to understand and to deal with conflicts of a moral nature.
Keywords: morality, moral orders, discourse, positioning, process consulting
The moral order and agency positions in psychotherapeutic conversations
In this article we ask how the moral order of clients’ relationships and lives, and of therapeutic conversations themselves, is discursively constructed in psychotherapy talk. We understand the moral order of relationships to include more or less articulated and shared understandings of: what is valued and what is not, the loyalties, duties and responsibilities expected of partners, the grounds for evaluating actions, and expectations of how value, concern and respect are communicated. We show how participants, while presenting their situations and emotional stances create various agency positions and bring forth different expectations and standpoints, leading to moral dilemmas. Our presentation is based on a series of case studies of individual and couple therapies. The analysis, employing ideas from conversation and discourse analysis, shows instances where clients find themselves restricted by moral conflicts and dilemmas, and perplexed by their own morally questionable acts. We also analyze how experienced therapists orient themselves to such situations, seeking solutions and striving to afford clients new agency positions in relation to them.
Keywords: moral order, therapeutic conversation, conversation analysis, discourse analysis, agency, positions, footing, problem formulations, blaming, moral dilemmas