Summer University in Social Work 

Universalism and communitarianism in social work

Prof. Simone Romagnoli, PhD — University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Western Switzerland

In its international definition of Ethics in Social Work, The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW/FITS) presents the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among other conventions, as «common standards » to be pursued by social workers. Given this regulatory ideal, the opportunity arises to question the obligations of social workers and more broadly to examine the deontological dimension of their profession suggested by the use of the term « standard » – or « norm » as the French version states – as well as the anchoring of these obligations in a set of values shared by a given « community », the actual outlines of which should be precisely defined. In general, the terminology of « common norm » introduces the classic opposition, in moral philosophy, between the abstract individualism promoted by liberal thinkers and the irreducible rooting of every individual in a specific community defended by communitarians. Through a presentation of the theoretical issues underpinning this debate as well as of attempts to articulate these two important dimensions, participants in the Summer University in Social Work will be able to explore the dual movement of attachment and liberation that characterises the interventions, the missions and the nature of social work.

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