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      Ethics in an individualized field of practice – Social pedagogy in the context of the neoliberal organization

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          Writing from a Danish social pedagogical perspective, the author raises concerns about the difficulty of developing and integrating ethical reflection within the organization in the context of neoliberalism. While ethical reflection in social pedagogy tends to focus on the relationship between practitioner and client, or the relationship between the profession and the general public, this article wishes to focus on how ethical reflection develops in the workplace on an everyday basis. The reason for this focus is that the culture and language of the workplace can have major consequences for how practitioners interpret their roles and how they interpret the official ethical code. Although this article addresses the problem from a Danish context, the author argues that the struggle to develop ethical reflection within the organization is a general concern in most professions in contemporary society. What makes this problem controversial within the Danish social pedagogical context is that the profession has a long tradition of working qualitatively with relationship-based-practices. In the neoliberal organization, mercantile logic undermines the ethical logic of relationship-based practices. This is due to the former’s emphasis on effectivity and the latter’s emphasis on responsibility. This article is a critique of what the author sees as the neoliberal organization’s inability to tackle this conflict of values. Furthermore, this article problematizes the ‘abstract individuality’ that neoliberal organizations produce, highlighting the fact that such individuality is inconsistent with responsibility. Finally, the author argues that, by reinterpreting the concept of reflective practice, the organization may develop a more concrete individuality that is more consistent with responsibility.

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          Corporeal ethics and the politics of resistance in organizations

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            How social workers reflect in action and when and why they don’t: the possibilities and limits to reflective practice in social work

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              Medarbejderen i kærlighedens tegn


                Author and article information

                International Journal of Social Pedagogy
                UCL Press
                25 February 2020
                : 9
                : 1
                University College Copenhagen, Denmark; BCL@
                © 2020, Bill Cleary.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited • DOI:

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                Pages: 12
                Conceptual Critique
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                Cleary, B. (2020). Ethics in an individualized field of practice – Social pedagogy in the context of the neoliberal organization. International Journal of Social Pedagogy, 9( 1): 4. DOI:


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                International Journal of Social Pedagogy
                Volume 9, Issue 1

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