For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Rhetoric versus reality: The role of research in deconstructing concepts of caring"

by Freshwater, Dawn; Cahill, Jane; Esterhuizen, Philip; Muncey, Tessa; Smith, Helen (2017)


Our aim was to employ a critical analytic lens to explicate the role of nursing research in supporting the notion of caring realities. To do this, we used case exemplars to illustrate the infusion of such discourses. The first exemplar examines the fundamental concept of caring: using Florence Nightingale's Notes on Nursing, the case study surfaces caring as originally grounded in ritualized practice and subsequently describes its transmutation, via competing discourses, to a more holistic concept. It is argued that in the many and varied attempts to define the dynamic concept of care, caring has now become paradoxically, a more fragmented concept despite attempts to render it more holistic and inclusive. In the second exemplar, one of the authors draws on her personal experience of the gap between theory and practice, so pronounced that it pushed the author to revisit the concept of evidence-based practice and nursing education. In our third and final exemplar, we refer to the absence of knowledge and practice generated through natural enquiry and curiosity, an absence which has led to production of corporate led rhetoric. Drawing together the central arguments of the three exemplars, we reflect on the influential role of nursing research in enabling the deconstruction of taken for granted assumptions such as caring, evidence-based practice and empowerment; assumptions which have been generated by discourses riddled with confusion and alienation from the reality of practice and the natural spirit of professional enquiry.


Caring, Discourses, Evidence-Based Practice, Knowledge Production, Nursing Practice, Nursing Research, Professional Enquiry, Rhetoric


Concepts of Work, Care Work

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