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Title: Professional power and sociological analysis : lessons from a comparative historical study of nursing in Britain and the U.S.A.
Author: Davies, Celia
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1981
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This thesis is a comparative and historical study of nursing in Britain and the USA from 1860 to 1970. The framework for the enquiry is drawn from the sociology of occupations and professions and the material is oriented specifically to the suggestion that occupational groups 'professionalise' and that professionalisation is a quest for power. There are four parts. Part one reviews the literature on professions which was available in the early 1970s, noting the strong consensus of what are called 'sceptical theorists' around the theme of professional power. It also examines a more substantive literature on nursing, for its bearing on this theme, and outlines a research design. The design involves the specification of areas of power and of indicators of the amount of power held. It sugges ways in which empirical materials might be, collected, largely from secondary sources. Part two presents data on control gained by nurses in both countries in relation to two areas of entry and training. Reasons are given why the research design needed to be modified to produce a much more exploratory and interpretative account than had been envisaged. Differences in the matrix of institutions surrounding the regulation of nursing and the ways they function in the two settings are covered, still in the context of asking questions about the locus of power. The weaknesses of this style of analysis prompt an approach in part 3 which departs further from the original specifications. Nursing is seen as engaged less in a direct quest for control and more in a struggle for meaning. Three chapters deal in turn with concepts of the nurse and her work, aspects of the formulation and presentation of nursing knowledge and some of the strategies and struggles in which nurses have collectively engaged. A deliberate effort is made to build on and use the crosscultural, comparative opportunities presented by these data. The concluding section assesses the relevance of these analyses for the sociology of occupations and professions, suggesting that although the sceptical theorists of the early 1970s performed an important service in highlighting the normative nature of the concept of profession, they did not suggest altogether satisfactory ways of coming to terms with it. Two appendices are included, one providing additional statistical material for chapters 3 and 4, the other discussing issues of theory and method which arise in an historical and sociological project such as this.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Social Science Research Council (Great Britain)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HM Sociology ; RT Nursing