Impartiality: A critical review


  • Tristram Hooley



Impartiality, Transparency, Ethics, Professionalism, Career guidance


This article (re)opens debate about the concept of ‘impartiality’ in career guidance. It argues that while the concept of impartiality is at the centre of professional ethics for career guidance in the UK, it is poorly defined and weakly theorised. Through a process of concept mapping and an exploration of the challenges associated with impartiality, the article clarifies the definition of impartiality and problematises its centrality in the UK’s ethical frameworks. The article argues that there are three main ideas which constitute the contemporary notion of impartiality: institutional independence, outcome neutrality and political neutrality. It argues that the grouping of these three ideas under a single term is unhelpful as they all raise different issues and objections. The article then outlines five challenges: ambiguity; application in practice; alignment with career theory, tensions with other ethical values; and practicing within partial funding regimes. Finally, some ways forward are suggested.


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