01 SES 03 A, Workplace Issues
Parallel Paper Session
The overall purpose of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of how professionals exercise discretionary judgments when facing moral dilemmas at work. The main concern will be how professionals navigate between the different and sometimes conflicting demands of law, professional roles, the ethics of the profession and personal moral and values.
Autonomy and discretionary powers are cornerstones of professionalism (Freidson 2001, Molander & Grimen 2010). Lipsky described teachers and other professionals as street-level bureaucrats and “de facto policy makers” (Lipsky 2010) responsible for implementing major political decisions and values. Recently, however, there have been a growing number of laws proscribing mandated reporting for many, and in some European countries all the professions. Detailed mandatory reporting laws can from one perspective be seen as a challenge to the professional’s autonomy and a restriction of the professional’s discretionary space. On the other hand mandatory reporting laws can be seen as fundamental ways of securing children’s basic rights and other important values in the society.
1) How do a group of secondary school teachers and vicars responsible for confirmation exercise professional discretion when facing dilemmas raising the question of mandated reporting versus confidentiality?
2) How can professional discretion be trained so that the professionals will be properly prepared for dealing with moral dilemmas of work?
Several studies indicate that teachers, clergy and other professionals often are not properly trained and prepared for dealing with moral dilemmas at work (Solbrekke & Englund 2011, Ohnstad 2008, Foster & Dahill 2006). Recent studies investigate factors influencing teachers’ understanding of child sexual abuse and decisions to report to child service agencies (Walsh et. al. 2008, Webster et. al. 2005). Few studies, however, focus on the role of the professionals as moral agents. The project seeks to investigate what kinds of sources that inform the exercise of discretion. What kinds of warrants (Toulmin 2003) do the professionals use, and how do they navigate between the different or conflicting “normative contexts of discretion” (Molander & Grimen 2010)?
This project belongs to the field professional ethics, and it seeks to combine ”an emphasis on prior theoretical ideas and models which feed into and guide research while at the same time attending to the generation of theory from the ongoing analysis of data” (Layder 1998). The theory is partly drawn from the sociology of professions with Lipsky, Freidson and Abbot as important sources. Inspired by critical realism as interpreted by Danermark (2002) it will be absolutely central to investigate the research object from different angles and with different theoretical lenses. The theme moral agency, the relationship between agency and structure and the question of how a moral discretion can be trained or learned will be central. Following this the empirical findings will be recontexualized and interpreted with resources from decision theory, argumentation theory (Toulmin 2003) and with several perspectives from empirical ethics and moral philosophy (MacIntyre 2007, Taylor 1989).
Bianic, T. Le; Svensson, L. G. (2010). "Professions and European regulation and integration. Case studies of architects and psychologists". International Journal of Public Policy. Vol. 6, iss. 1-2, pp. 1-15 Bryman, A. (2008). Social research methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson education. Danermark, B. (2002). Explaining society: critical realism in the social sciences. London: Routledge. Foster, R.; Dahill, L. (2006). Educating clergy. Teaching Practices and Pastoral Imagination. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Freidson, E. (2001). Professionalism: the third logic. Cambridge: Polity Press Lipsky, M. (2010) Street-Level Bureaucracy. Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services (updated ed). New York: Russel Sage Foundation. MacIntyre, A. (2007). After virtue: a study in moral theory (3rd. rev. ed.). London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC Molander, A; Grimen, H. (2010). "Understanding professional discretion". Sociology of professions: Continental and Anglo-Saxon traditions. L. G. Svensson, J. Evetts (eds.). Gothenburg: Daidalos, pp. 167-187 Ohnstad, F. Oma (2008), Profesjonsetiske dilemmaer og handlingsvalg i lærerutdanningens praksisskoler [Dilemmas of professional ethics and choice of action in internship teacher training]. PhD dissertation, University of Oslo. Solbrekke, T. Dyrdal; Englund, T. (2011). "Bringing professional responsibility back in". Studies in Higher Education 36:7, pp. 847-861. Taylor, C. (1989). Sources of the self: The making of a modern identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Toulmin, S. (2003). The uses of argument (updated ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Walsh, K.; Bridgstock, R.; Farrell, A. (2008). "Case, teacher and school characteristics Influencing teacher’s detection and reporting of child physical abuse and neglect: Results from an Australian survey". Child Abuse & Neglect. Vol. 32, pp. 983-993. Webster, S. W.; O’Toole, R.; O’Toole, A. (2005). "Overreporting and underreporting of child abuse: Teacher’s use of professional discretion". Child Abuse & Neglect. Vol. 29, pp. 1281-1296
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