Negotiating social differences and power geometries among healthcare professionals in a Swiss hospital

Ammann, Carole (Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research (AISSR), University of Amsterdam) ; Mall, Julia (Institute of Geography, University of Bern) ; Richter, Marina (School of Social Work, University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland HES-SO Valais/Wallis) ; Thieme, Susan (Institute of Geography, University of Bern)

In this article, we analyse two parallel processes taking place in the Swiss healthcare sector, namely differentiation and standardisation: On one hand, the health sector is increasingly characterised by differentiation that originates from the specialisation of training, the differentiation and academisation of nursing, the feminisation of medicine, the migration of healthcare personnel, and the entry of men into nursing professions. In addition, a new generation joining the health sector labour force is challenging taken-forgranted notions about health professions. On the other hand, healthcare organisations such as hospitals need to ensure they are functioning well by increasingly relying on standardisation processes such as checklists, standardised protocols, or ethical guidelines. For this paper, we have conducted an institutional ethnography of a Swiss acute hospital by employing an intersectional analysis. Based on interviews and shadowing, we argue that the social differences between and among nurses and physicians are constantly negotiated every day. We demonstrate that those differences lead to power imbalances along the intersectional axes of age, gender, place of education, and professional position. Our findings have implications for general debates in health-related fields; for management and organizational studies more in general; and in particular for feminist labour geographies, as they place debates on workrelations, power, hierarchy, and intersectional social differences into a specific organizational and spatial context.

Article Type:
Travail social
Travail social
Institut Travail Social
Travail social
Published in:
Gender, Place & Culture
Numeration (vol. no.):
Published online: 30 Nov 2020
Appears in Collection:

 Record created 2021-06-10, last modified 2021-06-10

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