Community nurses’ talk of equality and the discursive constitution of selves


Kay Aranda,
Institute of Nursing and Midwifery,
University of Brighton,
Westlain House,
Falmer BN1 9PH,


Aim.  The aim of this paper is to explore how stories revealed the discursive constitution of particular selves and to consider the implications for future understandings of equality and practice.

Background.  Equality has long been an objective of most Western healthcare systems, as enshrined in the principles of equal rights to access, treatment and care. Service users, however, continue to experience inequities, oppression and discrimination. These continuing inequalities have resulted in demands for nurses to tackle discrimination and oppression and promote equality in their practice.

Methods.  Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 community nurse students and 14 practice teachers from two universities in England in 1998. Discourse analysis was used to interpret the narratives.

Findings.  Community nurses were actively positioning themselves and were being positioned through dominant and competing discourses. Their narratives revealed stories of equality in health care that were contingent upon complex discursively constituted selves. They were found to take up, rework and in some cases subvert and reject dominant subject positions. The implications of these selves are considered in relation to the development of equality and practice.

Conclusions.  Educationalists and practitioners need to engage with these discourses and diverse selves and begin to develop approaches which remain open to scrutiny and challenge so that specific and localized understandings of equality and practice can evolve.