“We don't experiment with our patients!” An ethnographic account of the epistemic politics of (re)designing nursing work

Syb Kuijper*, Martijn Felder, Stewart Clegg, Roland Bal, Iris Wallenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This article draws on ethnographic research investigating experimental reform projects in local nursing practices. These are aimed at strengthening nursing work and fostering nurses' position within healthcare through bottom-up nurse-driven innovations. Based on literature on epistemic politics and critical nursing studies, the study examines and conceptualizes how these nurses promote professional and organizational change. The research draws on data from two pilot projects to show how epistemic politics frame the production and use of knowledge within reform efforts. The study finds that knowledge produced through such experimenting is often not considered valid within the contexts of broader organizational transitions. The nurse-driven innovations fail to meet established legitimate criteria for informing change, both among stakeholders in the nurses' socio-political environment, as well as within the nursing community. The research reveals that the processes inadvertently reinforce normative knowledge hierarchies, perpetuating forms of epistemic injustice, limiting both nurses' ability to function as change agents and healthcare organizations’ capacity to learn.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116482
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume340
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

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