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Just a Job?Communication, Ethics, and Professional Life$
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George Cheney, Dan Lair, Dean Ritz, and Brenden Kendall

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182774

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182774.001.0001

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(Re)Framing Ethics at Work

(Re)Framing Ethics at Work

(p.21) 1 (Re)Framing Ethics at Work
Just a Job?

George Cheney (Contributor Webpage)

Daniel J. Lair

Dean Ritz

Brenden E. Kendall

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores how we have limited our own understanding and application of ethics at work through our everyday talk about it. The chapter begins by arguing that how we frame ethics is as important, and sometimes more important, than the specific ethical decisions we make. The chapter explains how a perspective on ethics that is grounded in communication and rhetoric can illuminate how we unnecessarily restrain the influence of ethics at work. The chapter makes the case for examining popular culture and everyday talk for clues to how ethics is treated in our professional lives. Turning the saying “talk is cheap” on its head, the chapter urges a serious consideration of what it means to say, for example, that one's work is “just a job” or that we should “let the market decide.” Thus, the reader is urged to find ethical implications in diverse messages and cases, ranging from codes and handbooks, to television shows and Internet advertising, to everyday conversation, including sayings that become part of who we are.

Keywords:   Communication, Conversation, Ethics, Framing, Market, Organizational culture, Popular culture, Professionalism, Rhetoric, Work

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