• professional boundaries;
  • uniforms;
  • professional identity


Despite their comparative neglect analytically, uniforms play a key role in the delineation of occupational boundaries and the formation of professional identity in healthcare. This paper analyses a change to the system of uniforms in one UK hospital, where management have required all professions (with the exception of doctors) to wear the same ‘corporate’ uniform. Focus groups were conducted with the professionals and patients. We analyse this initiative as a kind of McDonaldisation, seeking to create a new ‘corporate’ worker whose allegiance is principally to the organisation, rather than a profession. Our findings show how important uniforms are to their wearers, both in terms of the defence of professional boundaries and status, as well as the construction of professional identity.