Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Peter H. Stephenson
An examination of values and behavior of nurses within the institutional bureaucracy of a hospital is the subject matter of this thesis. In this study the structural characteristics of health provisioning in the hospital environment restrict the development of a unified body of nurse professionals, and these realities generate conflict between the value interests of nurses and those of the hospital. Conflict examined here refers specifically to the disparities between belief and action, and were analyzed by utilizing the distinctions drawn between cultural and social elements of life developed by the anthropologist Geertz.
An ethnographic study with the use of a questionnaire developed from the anthropological political role behavioral concepts of middleman, patron, and entrepreneur to investigate attitudes and beliefs about nursing behavior suggests that a critical paradox is emerging between the behavioral expression of nurses and professed institutional ideologies. Traditionally, the nursing profession has been oriented toward "otherness," that is, the interests of the patient and the physician stood above those of the nurse. The bureaucracy, with institutional goals, and the relative powerlessness of nurses vis-à-vis physicians, prevents the development and implementation of their own caring model of service. The fact that nursing models of care are being thwarted by organizational and physician interests creates stress for the majority of nurses.
One major outcome of stress is that nurses are now beginning to alter their professional role behavior. The old value system is now being challenged by a younger generation of nurses, who see themselves as professionals seeking personal advancement and gain within the conditions of the hospital.
From an applied anthropoiogical perspective, the ethnographic data were generated into a research hypothesis and questions related to value conflict and social behavior. A list of recommendations for change within nursing and the institutional bureaucracy is suggested.
Ray, Marilyn Anne, "An Applied Anthropological Study of Role Behavior within the Profession of Nursing Within the Complex Institution of the Hospital" (1978). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5305.
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