Transparency in Social Work

Door Gretl Dons

During recent decades, the notion of transparency has become a guiding framework in social work policy and practice. Transparency is often approached in this context as a managerial notion. In this article, we approach transparency as a relational notion, a key attitude in social work.

Relation transparency is a prerequisite for achieving democratic partnership with service users and their family and social network. Transparency as a key attitude of the social worker is often taken for granted, both by practitioners as by policymakers. In the first face of our action research, we found that the way in which transparency is realized in the everyday practice of social work is a major challenge.

After discussing the shift from a managerial to a relational notion of transparency, we analyse the various polarities social workers have to deal with in order to develop a transparent practice vis-à-vis service users. The question is whether we repeatedly fall into the trap of thinking that these dilemmas can be resolved instead of looking for ways to deal with them in daily practice without losing the fundamental values and ethical standards that social work represents.

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