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Gendered forms of othering in UK hospital medicine: Nostalgia as resistance against the modern doctor

Maria Tsouroufli (University of York, York, UK)
Mustafa Özbilgin (Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK)
Merryn Smith (University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 16 August 2011




Attempts to modernise the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK involve promoting flexible approaches to work and training, restructuring postgraduate training and increasing control and scrutiny of doctors' work. However, the medical community has responded with expressed anxiety about the implications of these changes for medical professionalism and the quality of patient care. This paper aims to address these issues.


Drawing on literature on nostalgia, gender, identity and organisations, the paper explores the narratives of 20 senior NHS hospital doctors to identify ways in which doctors use nostalgia to react to organisational and professional challenges and resist modernisation and feminisation of medicine.


This paper illustrates how senior hospital doctors' nostalgic discourses of temporal commitment may be used to constitute a highly esteemed professional identity, creating a sense of personal and occupational uniqueness for senior hospital doctors, intertwined with gendered forms of othering and exclusionary practices.

Practical implications

Nostalgia at first sight appears to be an innocuous social construct. However, this study illustrates the significance of nostalgia as a subversive practice of resistance with implications for women's career and identity experiences. Change initiatives that seek to tackle resistance need also to address discourses of nostalgia in the medical profession.


The main contribution of this study is that we illustrate how supposedly neutral discourses of nostalgia may sometimes be mobilised as devices of resistance. This study questions simplistic focus on numerical representation, such as feminisation, as indicative of modernisation and highlights the significance of exploring discourses and head counts for understanding resistance to modernisation.



Tsouroufli, M., Özbilgin, M. and Smith, M. (2011), "Gendered forms of othering in UK hospital medicine: Nostalgia as resistance against the modern doctor", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 498-509.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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