Conflicting Principles in Social Work Doctoral Programs: The Effects of Unspoken Power Dynamics
Gearing, Robin Edward
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Doctoral students are guided by two distinct sets of principles - those of their profession and academe - that may conflict. The social work profession is built upon the collaborative principles of equity, diversity, social justice, anti-oppression, participation, respect for differences, and human dignity. In contrast, academe at the doctoral level promotes competition, productivity, research, publication, and the advancement of new knowledge and practice. When these frequently discordant tenets intersect in such areas as the supervisory relationship or the appointment of research and teaching assistants, the resulting unanticipated power dynamics can have a dramatic impact on students and faculty. Social work principles can be employed by faculty and students to identify and address these power dynamics, thus enriching the doctoral experience.