Rhizomatic thought in nursing: an alternative path for the development of the discipline


Dr  Dave  Holmes,  Associate  Professor,  School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, 451 Smyth Road, Ottawa, Canada K1H 8M5. Tel.: +1 613 562 5800 ext. 8341; fax +1 613 562 5443; e-mail: dholmes@uottawa.ca


Abstract  For decades, nursing as a discipline has tried to establish itself within the socio-professional and the socio-political arenas. To date, several theorists have attempted to thoroughly define the essence (ontology) of nursing while others have proposed means (syntax) to achieve this ‘collective’ objective. Considering that this preoccupation, rooted in essentialism, is pervasive in the nursing literature, our claim is that these quests should be criticized because they impede innovative and transdisciplinary approaches to nursing theory. Our criticism includes the perspective supported by the so-called ‘postmodern nursing theorists’. We argue that the oeuvre of some nursing postmodern scholars is as prescriptive and linear as the ones they critique. Like it was done before, the discourse of these thinkers perpetuates the status quo by excluding alternative forms of knowledge that cross the boundaries of the discipline of nursing. Using the work of Deleuze and Guattari, this paper proposes an alternative way to conceive the development of nursing knowledge, which, we think, could represent an alternative way to explore the discipline of nursing.