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DILEMMATIC SPACE . Because collective purposes and values are always contested Because human beings have a fundamental ambivalence about authority and government Because policy makers pass irresolvable conflicts down to front-line staff . CONTRADICATIONS OF GOVERNANCE.

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  • Because collective purposes and values are always contested

  • Because human beings have a fundamental ambivalence about authority and government

  • Because policy makers pass irresolvable conflicts down to front-line staff

Contradications of governance l.jpg

  • There must be more collaboration and no let up in competition

  • Public servants must be more enterprising and there will be no let up in centralised control

  • We are committed to sustainable innovation and to short-term funding initiatives

  • We acknowledge complexity and believe in evaluation based upon simple, linear, cause/effect relations

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  • Type 1: Value Conflict

    • I ought to do A and I ought to do B but I cannot do A and B.

  • Type 2: Ambivalence

    • I must do A, I must not do A

  • Type 1 dilemmas l.jpg

    There is no right thing to do, I have to ‘act for the best’

    Ethical action involves risk and therefore anxiety

    In choosing A I have to reject B

    Ethical action therefore involves guilt (letting down B) and/or loss (because I could not pursue the rejected alternative)


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    Inherent nature of risk best’

    • As Sidney Hook once put it, ‘faced by problems, nothing is better than thoughtful action, but our best actions may not be enough. We cannot escape risk because even an informed choice may be an unlucky one’ (Hook, 1974, p.59).

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    An Example best’

    • Eunice, who is white, created and leads a project for children and families which is now highly embedded in the multi-cultural neighbourhood where she lives. As a consequence the project is immersed in the local social networks of the surrounding area. Local black people not only use the services of the project, they are its volunteers and management committee members and some have become members of staff. One such member of staff, someone with whom Eunice identifies strongly because of what he has managed to survive and come through in his own life, crosses the line in terms of what is acceptable professional behaviour. Although Eunice confronts him with the issue he refuses to acknowledge that he has made a serious mistake. The worker in question has a strong reputation in the local community and is well liked by many members of staff and service users. After a great deal of agonising Eunice decides to instigate disciplinary procedures against him.

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    Dimensions best’

    • Formal, impersonal rules of government vs informal, face to face rules of community

    • Regeneration policies emphasise recruitment of local activists and yet social policies are dominated by risk aversion

    • Universal standards of professional conduct vs class and cultural insensitivity

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    Conflicting values best’

    • It was about his, you know, lack of understanding of youth work, the boundaries and how, it’s this thing of employing, in many ways he had good qualities for the job but he wasn’t a professionally trained youth worker and he brought some of his old kinda street stuff into his work too much. And, and, but couldn’t see that, couldn’t see that that was a problem. Thought he was being victimised …

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    Asbo kids best’

    • Last week I saw all the shops around here have mug shots of the 10 most difficult young people and I was at a meeting of the shopkeepers and I saw these, sort of, rows of photographs and they’re a very desperate bunch. I mean, I was probably the only person in the room who knew all the people and its just very sad to see this. I know they’re dangerous….but there is just a feeling of, is this the right way, but I can’t think of another way. You know, I can’t think of another way of getting these people out of their desperation. I mean, what struck me most about them is that they are a very unloved group, but all we can offer them is disciplinary, um, sort of, measures against them. We can’t actually offer them love. It would be asking too much of us…..My main feeling is, yes, they just have absolutely no love in their lives at all and all we’re doing is punishing them more and more. It feels, kind of, wrong.

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    The contradictions best’

    • Si feels totally conflicted about this, recognising that they are a `bad bunch’ but also feeling genuine compassion for them, accepting that they are dangerous but also seeing the vulnerability in their violence, wanting to do something but not knowing what and yet also being aware that he is colluding with their suppression.

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    TYPE 2 DILEMMAS best’

    • Heads you win, tails I lose – whatever I do is going to be wrong.

    • Failure is an inherent part of the job

    • The ethical actor is left to deal with feelings of resentment and ingratitude

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    • Things do not add up or fit together, there is no possibility of ‘closure’

    • A period of continuing doubt and regret, a wish that things had turned out other than they did.

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    The remainder best’

    • Eunice clearly experienced ‘the remainder’. Speaking of her colleague she said,

    • He resigned in the end … but it was not a good ending, you know, it was quite a bad ending and I did try and get him to come in to have a sort of (…) and talk over, but he didn’t come, so it’s kind, that’s kind of been left hanging.

    • Later she adds,

    • … at the end of it I just, I would’ve liked to have been able to talk to him and hope to get him to see that he was misunderstanding parts of the process and that, that it was actually fair, and as per the policy but he didn’t turn up to us, the meeting that we arranged.

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      the capacity to contain uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity without resort to simplistic splitting into good/bad, black/white, us/them, etc.·        the capacity for self-authorisation, that is, the capacity to find the courage to act in situations where there is no obvious right thing to do.·        the capacity for reflexivity, that is, to take oneself as an object of inquiry and curiosity and hence to be able to suspend belief about oneself; all this as a way of sustaining a critical approach to oneself, one’s values and beliefs, one’s strengths and weaknesses, the nature of one’s power and authority, and so on.·        the capacity to contain emotions such as anger, resentment, hope and cynicism without suppressing them and hence to be both passionate and thoughtful.