This paper presents perspectives on ethical dimensions and social dilemmas encountered in the professional work of social welfare practitioners in Denmark. The paper draws on examples from an ethnographic study of the subjective experiences of professionals with practice and the educational setting. On basis of the empirical findings the author argues that it is the interplay between the students’ personal narrative, practice experience and theoretical reflection with teachers and co-workers, which constitute the social workers’ ethical perception. When the social welfare practitioners experience the other subjects ‘being in existence’ a transformation of the personality takes place and a deeper understanding and compassion for ‘the other’ is integrated. Ethical judgment is a demanding and inescapable aspect of social work; hence, the educational institutions are compelled to prioritise questions on how the students are enabled to skillfully confront ethical reality, in order to develop concrete ethical perception and judgment based on wisdom, i.e. a pedagogical phronesis.
Phronesis; Etik; Ethics in Social Work; Life History in Education; Compassion & Wisdom; Transformation of Character
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XI International Summer School in lifelong learning, 2009