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The nurse–patient relationship: a consideration of its discursive context

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Abstract

The nurse–patient relationship: a consideration of its discursive context

This paper is a theoretical exploration of the discursive context that shapes the nurse–patient relationship. It represents a feminist poststructural consideration of the broader institutional and social context that influences the dynamics of that relationship. The characteristics of that relationship can be regarded as performances of subjectivity shaped by managerial, medical and nursing discourses. Both nurse and patient signify particular discursively constituted meanings to each other which shape the relationship. It is proposed that the discourses which inform how each should respond to the other encourage the utilization of disciplinary tactics by the nurse which relay to the patient what is expected of him/her. An effect of these disciplinary procedures is to rein in the caring potential of nursing practices. However, nursing’s relationship with women’s work and the social history of caring may provide it with a discursive context that recognizes the social significance of this work.

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