The purpose of this article is to critique extant nursing research on nursing practice environments by juxtaposing it with critical sociological perspectives on nurses' work and to propose an alternative paradigm for future research based on these perspectives.
The extant nursing/health services research on nursing practice environments is reviewed. Sociological concepts are introduced, expanded on, and linked to the variables measured in the nursing literature.
The substantial body of nursing research about nurses' job satisfaction has been targeted to management concerns and has taken the positivistic perspective that is traditional in organizational research. However, attempts to address nurses' working situations using expedient solutions obscure any consideration of underlying influencers. Several well‐developed sociological concepts pertaining to gender, knowledge, professionalization, and organizations have direct relevance for the study of nurses' work and can provide new perspectives for deeper questioning about nurses' work experiences.
Unprecedented organizational restructuring in health care has had a profound impact on the practice of nursing, prompting health system administrators and nursing researchers to study the consequences of system change and devise solutions. This paper presents a discussion of typically disconnected perspectives in the study of work (management and sociological) in order to reframe what is known about the factors influencing the quality of nurses' working lives and to provide a conceptual foundation for deeper and more critical research about nurses' work.
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