Research Article| Volume 53, ISSUE 1, P6-14, January 2005

Download started.


An emancipatory study of contemporary nursing practice

      Changes in health care facilities have created the necessity for individual nurses to change, eg, change jobs, pursue additional education, become independent entrepreneurs. There is a shortage of nurses that places stress on those who remain to care for an increasing number of persons with too few resources. The purposes of this study were to explore nurses' perceptions of the circumstances of their work lives and to describe the processes by which they can create change in these circumstances. The methodology was an emancipatory design combining tenets of critical inquiry and feminist research. The method used was a dialectical process of reflection and action (praxis). Three diverse groups of nurses met weekly over 6–10 weeks. Using the group process method, each group reflected on, discussed, and analyzed the phenomenon of practicing nursing today. The outcome of an emancipatory study is reflected in the power of the process. The group interaction increased awareness, promoted reflection on the status quo, and energized the groups to derive possible solutions to changing that status quo. It is not the solutions themselves that are as relevant as is the obvious cogency of the process to achieve individual and group emancipation. Six codifications reflected the themes that emerged and 5 processes for exploring untested feasibilities for change were identified. The participants perceived themselves more as subjects in their history than objects to be manipulated, capable of transforming a rather dismal situation of nursing practice into one that was critical, creative, and freer from constraints. The implication of this study is that nurses are encouraged to adopt and adapt this process of group interaction because of its demonstrated credibility to empower and validate the role that nurses have to derive and implement solutions to change their unsatisfactory status quo.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Nursing Outlook
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Roberts S.J.
        Oppressed group behavior: implications for nursing.
        Adv Nurs Sci. 1983; 5: 21-30
        • Chinn P.L.
        Peace and power: building communities for the future.
        5th ed. Jones & Bartlett, Sudbury, MA2001
        • Freire P.
        Pedagogy of the oppressed. Ramos MB, trans.
        The Continuum Publishing Company, New York, NY1998
        • Greenleaf N.P.
        Sex-segregated occupations: relevance for nursing.
        Adv Nurs Sci. 1980; 2: 23-37
        • Rutnam R.
        Is equity enough? Feminist perspectives on health technology assessment policy.
        Australian Feminist Studies. 1991; 14: 47-56
        • Allen D.
        Professionalism, occupational segregation by gender and control of nursing.
        Women Politics. 1997; 6: 1-24
        • Hughes L.
        Professionalizing domesticity: a synthesis of selected nursing historiography.
        Adv Nurs Sci. 1990; 12: 25-31
        • Glazer N.Y.
        ‘Between a rock and a hard place': women's professional organizations in nursing and class, racial and ethnic inequalities.
        Gender Society. 1991; 5: 351-372
        • Sexton P.C.
        The new Nightingales: hospital workers, unions, new women's issues.
        Enquiry Press, New York, NY1982
        • Hughes L.
        The public image of the nurse.
        Adv Nurs Sci. 1980; 2: 55-72
        • Baer E.D.
        Even her feminist friends see her as ‘only’ a nurse.
        Internat Nurs Rev. 1991; 38: 21
        • Gordon S.
        Fear of caring: the feminist paradox.
        Am J Nurs. 1991; 91: 45-48
        • Reverby S.M.
        Other tales of the nursing-feminism connection.
        Nurs Hlth Care. 1993; 14: 296-301
        • Bunting S.
        • Campbell J.C.
        Feminism and nursing: historical perspectives.
        Adv Nurs Sci. 1990; 12: 11-24
        • Chinn P.L.
        Nursing patterns of knowing and feminist thought.
        Nurs Outlook. 1989; 10: 71-75
        • Chinn P.L.
        • Wheeler C.E.
        Feminism and nursing.
        Nurs Outlook. 1985; 38: 74-77
        • Keddy B.A.
        Dis-ease between nursing and feminism: nurses caring for one another within a feminist framework.
        Issues Mental Health Nurs. 1993; 14: 237-292
        • Mason D.J.
        • Backer B.A.
        • Georges A.
        Toward a feminist model for the political empowerment of nurses.
        Image—J Nurs Scholarship. 1991; 23: 72-77
        • Sohler R.
        Feminism and nursing knowledge: the power of the weak.
        Nurs Outlook. 1992; 40: 62-66
        • Valentine P.
        Feminism: a four-letter word?.
        Can Nurs. 1992; 88: 20-23
        • Lovell M.C.
        The politics of medical deception.
        Adv Nurs Sci. 1980; 2: 73-86
        • Lovell M.C.
        Silent but perfect ‘partner': medicine's use and abuse of women.
        Adv Nurs Sci. 1981; 3: 25-40
        • Doering L.
        Power and knowledge in nursing: a feminist post-structural view.
        Adv Nurs Sci. 1992; 14: 24-33
        • Chinn P.L.
        • Wheeler C.E.
        • Roy A.
        • Berrey E.
        • Madsen C.
        Friends on friendship.
        Am J Nurs. 1988; 88: 1094-1096
        • Chinn P.L.
        • Wheeler C.E.
        • Roy A.
        • Mathier E.
        Just between friends.
        Am J Nurs. 1987; 87: 1456-1458
        • Raymond J.G.
        A passion for friends: toward a philosophy of female affection.
        Beacon Press, Boston, MA1986
        • DeMarco R.
        Mentorship: a feminist critique of current research.
        J Adv Nurs. 1993; 18: 1242-1250
        • Huggins E.
        • Scalzi C.
        Limitations and alternatives: ethical practice theory in nursing.
        Adv Nurs Sci. 1988; 10: 43-47
        • Laing M.
        Gossip: does it play a role in the socialization of nurses?.
        Image—J Nurs Scholarship. 1993; 25: 37-43
        • Liaschenko J.
        Feminist ethics and cultural ethics: revisiting a nursing debate.
        Adv Nur Sci. 1993; 15: 71-81
        • Reverby S.M.
        A caring dilemma: womanhood and nursing in historical perspective.
        Nurs Res. 1987; 35: 5-11
        • Sherwin S.
        Ethics, feminism and caring.
        Queen's Q. 1989; 96: 3-13
        • Watson J.
        The moral failure of the patriarchy.
        Nurs Outlook. 1990; 38: 62-66
        • Bevis E.O.
        A symphony of caring: shared visions and eloquent futures for nursing education and practice.
        in: Burke M. Sherman S. Gerontological nursing: Issues and opportunities for the twenty-first century. National League for Nursing, New York, NY1993: 81-97
        • Moccia P.
        About anger and power.
        in: Burke M. Sherman S. Gerontological nursing: issues and opportunities for the twenty-first century. National League for Nursing, New York, NY1993: 69-79
        • Rafael A.R.F.
        Advocacy and empowerment: dichotomous or synchronous?.
        Adv in Nurs Sci. 1995; 18: 25-32
      1. Rafael ARF. Power and caring: a dialectic in nursing. Adv Nurs Sci 1996;19:3-17.

        • Rafael A.F.F.
        Nurses who run with the wolves: the power of caring dialectic revisited.
        Adv Nurs Sci. 1998; 21: 29-42
        • Crotty M.
        The foundations of social research: meaning and perspective in the research process.
        Sage, London1998
        • Habermas J.
        Theory and practice. Viertel J, trans.
        Beacon Press, Boston, MA1973
        • Habermas J.
        Communication and the evolution of society. McCarthy T, trans.
        Beacon Press, Boston, MA1979
        • Webb C.
        Feminist research: definitions, methodology, methods and evaluation.
        J Adv Nurs. 1993; 18: 416-423
      2. Staloff D. Lecture 6: introduction to modernism and the age of analysis. In: Great minds of the western intellectual tradition Part VI. Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company; 2000.

        • Hagedorn S.
        The politics of caring: the role of activism in primary care.
        Adv Nurs Sci. 1995; 17: 1-11
        • Moran D.
        Introduction to phenomenology.
        Routledge, New York, NY2000
      3. Fontana JS. A methodology for critical science in nursing. Adv Nurs Sci 2004;27:93-101.

        • Giddens A.
        The consequences of modernity.
        Stanford University Press, Stamford, CA1990
        • Hall D.E.
        The academic self.
        The Ohio State University Press, Columbus, OH2002


      Barbara Bennett Jacobs is an Affiliated Faculty at the Center for Biothethics, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.


      Joyce S. Fontana is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the School of Nursing, St. Joseph College, West Hartford, CT.


      Maryanne Hidalgo Kehoe is a Doctoral Student at the School of Nursing, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.


      Colette Matarese is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the School of Nursing, Rhode Island College, Providence, RI.


      Peggy L. Chinn is a Professor Emerita at the School of Nursing, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.