• reflection;
  • reflective practices;
  • discourse;
  • nursing power;
  • private thoughts;
  • public spheres;
  • practice professions

Private thoughts in public spheres: issues in reflection and reflective practices in nursing

Aim. This paper aims to problematize the notions of reflection and reflective practice, particularly as they relate to private thoughts in public spheres and the constitution of personal and professional subjectivities.

Background/rationale. Reflection and reflective practice, through the technologies of power and technologies of the self, permit the previously private thoughts of nurses to enter the public sphere where they are subject to surveillance, assessment, classification and control. Instead of raising serious concerns and debate about such practices, the plethora of literature, whilst using a bewildering array of ambiguous, diverse interpretations of reflection and reflective practice, has been united in claiming them as good for nurses and nursing.

Approach. The paper draws on Foucauldian concepts of power-knowledge and discourse to interrogate radically the conceptualizations of reflection and reflective practice in contemporary nursing literature.

Conclusions. The paper challenges the hegemonic discourse of reflection in nursing. It argues that new conceptualizations of reflection that acknowledge and value a diversity of perspectives, contexts and dimensions are needed.