University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Sociological Theory in Nursing Research - What is Required?

Lipscomb, Martin ORCID: (2015) Sociological Theory in Nursing Research - What is Required? In: 19th Annual International Philosophy of Nursing Conference. Technology, Health Care and Person-centeredness: Beyond Utopia and Dystopia. Thinking the Future, 24th - 26th August 2015, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm. (Unpublished)

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Many published nursing studies involve or might be considered forms of sociology. However, substantive sociological theory is not often described or critiqued in these studies (or commentaries thereon). This may be problematic. Nurse researchers who employ sociological concepts explicitly or implicitly assume positions relative to those concepts but, if these positions are not ‘recognised’, if they are not formally noted or theorised, logical muddle and incoherence can ensue. Conceptual confusion may occur within a single study. Alternatively, when the results of studies on allied topics are compared or judged alongside each other by nurses seeking to base practice on evidence, if differences in researcher conceptual thinking are not acknowledged, false or erroneous judgements about the consistency and possible significance of results may be concluded. Definitional problems notwithstanding, it could therefore be argued that nurse researchers (and commentators on research) should engage more fully and profoundly with sociological theory than is currently the case. And, if we concede that some and possibly most sociological nursing studies discuss theory superficially, then this potentially reflects negatively on the value of at least some of that work. These arguments clearly extend beyond sociological studies and, vis-à-vis theory more generally, noted nursing scholars assert that, for nurses, first, theorising is or should not be an end in itself. And, second, theory is of interest/importance only insofar as it beneficially enables discipline development and/or improvements in practice. Both claims have intuitive appeal. Yet it is difficult to specify how and where the line between (put crudely) care-focused or allowable theorising and abstract or non-care-focused disallowed theorising is to be drawn. Further, if the divide between potentially ‘useful’ and ‘non-useful’ abstract ideas/theory cannot be agreed then perhaps restrictions should not be placed on the scope or range of theoretical emersion that nurses permit themselves. Dissolving self-imposed limits to engagement with theory may however, disturb established and cherished ideas regarding nursing’s disciplinary boundaries and identities. Such a move might therefore be resisted.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: nursing, sociological theory, nursing research
Subjects: R Medicine > RT Nursing
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Nursing and Midwifery
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Depositing User: Martin Lipscomb
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2015 07:54
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:08

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