The Love Ethic: A Radical Theory for Social Work Practice

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Love is marginalised in professional social work codes of ethics in Australia and internationally. Yet, reflecting the emancipatory imperative of social work, feminist bell hooks promotes love as a political process to transform systems of injustice such as capitalism, patriarchy, and racism. Analysing the works of hooks and other relevant literature, this article discusses “the love ethic”, a model of relationship-oriented activism encompassing dialogue, nonviolence, interconnectedness between people and between people and nature, reflexivity, shared power, and solidarity. It provides some practical suggestions for love-based social work practice, such as self-forgiveness, pursuing gender-equal relationships, upholding fair workplace conditions, honouring Indigenous peoples, supporting oppressed people to assert their rights, connecting local and global action, nurturing symbiotic relationships with nature, and supporting empowering spiritualities. The love ethic supports radical social workers to engage in activism, and necessitates further exploration within academia and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-416
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Social Work
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2017


  • Dialogue
  • Love
  • Social Work Ethics
  • Social Work Practice

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