Understanding Portuguese social workers’ values preferences


  • Helena Teles Universidade de Lisboa
  • Maria Irene Carvalho Universidade de Lisboa


social work, social work values, Portuguese values, universalism, tradition


In this article, we seek to find out what values social workers in Portugal identify as critical for the profession, and we further attempt to contextualise them with the values of the Portuguese population. We adopted a quantitative and extensive methodology; used the Schwartz scale to collect data from social workers, while the values of the Portuguese population were gathered from the European Social Survey. The results indicate that social workers prefer values centered on universalism and benevolence, and yet they exercise their profession in a society that prefers values oriented towards the maintenance of tradition. It is essential that social workers have the practical wisdom to make ethical decisions based on the values of the profession, whether universal or specific, taking into account the context in which they practice. Subsequently, it is significant for professionals to understand these general societal values to enable them to define meaningful strategies to reinforce the values of social work in their professional practice.