Feelings of (in)authenticity in social work – a potential guide for ethical practice?

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At the heart of this article lies the unique question of whether feelings of (in)authenticity can act as a resource for ethical social work practice. In adopting an affirmative position, I posit that emotional labour is traceable to feeling inauthentic and that for social workers possessing a virtuous sensibility such feelings represent sites of ethical struggle. For workers who are reflectively alert to their sense of self I argue that these feelings become ethical markers for practice, offering guidance for that which is ethically just. Within this debate, the idea of virtue as being morally good is framed around an interpretation that sees it as supportive of social justice. The article thus concludes that the deliberation of feelings – of being (in)authentic – can act as a disruptive prompt for practice that could prove unjust or oppressive. Within this original discussion, conceptions of authenticity, emotional work and virtue are critically explored in relation to the self.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalEthics and Social Welfare
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2024


  • Authentic
  • emotional labour
  • ethics
  • self
  • virtue


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