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Social Pedagogy as an Ethical Orientation Towards Working With People — Historical Perspectives

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2015

Gabriel Eichsteller*
ThemPra Social Pedagogy C.I.C.
Sylvia Holthoff
ThemPra Social Pedagogy C.I.C.
*address for correspondence: 3 Steeple Lane, Beaumaris, Anglesey, LL58 8DU, United Kingdom.


Social pedagogy has a longstanding tradition in many European countries. This article outlines its development in relation to culturally specific concepts of children and their upbringing — the pedagogical — and ideas about the relationship between individuals and their community — the social. Both dimensions are closely connected to social pedagogy's ethical orientation, most notably to respect people as resourceful agents, help them develop their potential and support the construction of a more just society. By drawing on historical thinkers in social philosophy and education, the article explains how these two dimensions have shaped social pedagogy as an action-orientated science that requires professionals to work in an ethical manner. It concludes by discussing the need for critical reflection in order to ensure profound respect of people's human dignity and their otherness.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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