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The Rhetorical Negotiation of Professional Identity: Nursing's Moral Imperative as the Flexible Professional and the Contribution of Unexpected Evidence

Studies in Symbolic Interaction

ISBN: 978-1-78052-156-5, eISBN: 978-1-78052-157-2

ISSN: 0163-2396

Publication date: 14 October 2011

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to apply a rhetorical lens to the exploration of symbolic interactions used to negotiate contested identity. Specifically, we provide and analyze an Internet discussion among nurses concerning job duties and responsibilities. In this case study, one nurse questions her superior's remarks about her “abandoning” her responsibilities if she does not undertake “non-nursing” tasks. Ironically, the majority of posts that follow from other nurses perpetuate the notion that nurses must perform “non-nursing” tasks to fulfill their primary moral obligation and sustain an identity of nurses as flexible and caring. A rhetorical lens is applied and suggests that multiple framing techniques and rhetorical tactics (i.e., mutual negation, minimization, red herrings, sunny-side of domination, and perhaps most important the moral imperative) are used to persuade the nurse toward a collective identity – flexible professional. Although the main contribution of this study is found in the use of the rhetorical lens, an additional contribution is discussed – unexpected evidence, which suggests that the primary assumption of a “nursing shortage” may be a discursive reality, as well.

Keywords

Citation

Patric Clair, R. and Fox, R.L. (2011), "The Rhetorical Negotiation of Professional Identity: Nursing's Moral Imperative as the Flexible Professional and the Contribution of Unexpected Evidence", Denzin, N.K. and Faust, T. (Ed.) Studies in Symbolic Interaction (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 37), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 237-267. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0163-2396(2011)0000037013

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited