Passivity versus militancy: a Q methodological study of nurses’ industrial relations on Merseyside (England)
This paper describes a Q methodological study of accounts of nurses’ industrial relations expressed by a sample of nurses (n = 60) drawn from the geographical area of Merseyside, United Kingdom (UK). The participants completed a 65-item Q sort made up of statements which could be ranked in terms of their relevance to an understanding of their industrial relations situation. Of interest was the importance of the narrative accounts which nurses draw upon in making sense of their employment relations, having the potential to underpin or delimit their actions. The notion of industrial action was an important focus of this research. Q methodology was chosen to allow the meaningful investigation of such subjectivity, with interesting tensions between differing notions of professionalism and militancy apparent from the analysis. Six accounts of industrial relations, which are available to be drawn on by nurses, are described and interpreted within a social constructionist framework. Some implications for the conduct of nurses’ industrial relations in the UK are contemplated.