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Manufacturing dissent: Labor conflict, care work, and the politicization of caring
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences.
2014 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, ISSN 2245-0157, E-ISSN 2245-0157, Vol. 4, no 1, 139-152 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The article analyzes the phenomenon of "politicization of caring," observed in studies of nurselabor conflict, in the context of a small-scale episode of conflict at a Swedish hospital ward. Usinganalytical concepts drawn from work on the role of images of gendered ideal workers in managementcultivation of consent, and the method of positioning analysis, it tries to identify the littleresearched discursive practices involved in the politicization of caring. Analysis of interviews withregistered nurses, who took part in a conflict where some of them threatened to resign unlesswages were raised and working conditions improved, shows a range of such strategies: includingproblematizing identities in nursing, expanding the context of caring work, using a discourse of professionalism,and redefining the interpellated image of nursing. Findings indicate that politicizationthus has important effects on the gendering of nursing and the viability of neoliberal restructuringof healthcare work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 4, no 1, 139-152 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-22758DOI: 10.19154/njwls.v4i1.3556OAI: diva2:743748
Normalisering och den neoliberala välfärdsstaten. Utmaningar av och för genusteori
Swedish Research Council, 344-2011-5104
Available from: 2014-09-05 Created: 2014-09-05 Last updated: 2016-10-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Care in revolt: Labor conflict, gender, neoliberalism
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Care in revolt: Labor conflict, gender, neoliberalism
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present thesis is an exploration of normalization processes and the problem of appropriation in labor conflict. More specifically, it analyses the way contemporary labor conflicts in nursing relate to, and thereby help to illuminate, changes in modes of gender normalization under neoliberalism, and how nurse labor conflict thereby sheds light on wider patterns of labor strife. Analysis shows how a “virtue script” bound up with long-lasting patterns of gender normalization in nursing becomes tangled with forms of abstract labor related to “new public management” reform. Although the restructuring of work threatens public professionals’ autonomy, at the same time, it provides opportunities for resistance through collective action. What is more, this restructuring process facilitates the appropriation by nurses and, by implication, other public workers, of the discourses and ideals that belonged to the ethos of the Keynesian welfare state. However, this is a contradictory process, since the discourses and ideals thus appropriated inhere in modes of labor exploitation and normalization. Analysis indicates that although appropriation risks to reinforce gendered and exploitative ideas about work, the strategy can be a lever of collective mobilization, and one of its possible outcomes is the radical transformation of the entities it takes possession of. This interview study is mainly based on four journal articles, attending to different aspects of an act of collective resignation taken by registered nurses at a Swedish hospital ward. This is an emerging form of collective action and the thesis provides one of the first analyses of this new grassroots and workplace-based phenomenon, which may be considered its particular empirical contribution. On the other hand, the chapters of the cover essay unfold a sustained argument on normalization and appropriation, thereby elaborating theoretical themes broached in the articles. The focal point of this discussion is a certain concept of form, deployed in Marxist and feminist theory, a concept pointing to the identity of thought-forms and practically enacted forms. Further, these forms migrate: they are evoked in practices wherein “the mind is not active as sentient” (Hegel), later to be projected by the mind onto different entities. The results of the discussion thus question common approaches to normalization. In particular, it is untenable to oppose a tacit and internal mode of control where individuals are induced to comply by attaching to identifications (by becoming/being made into subjects) to an overt and external mode reliant on sheer coercion. This matter–form dichotomy should be dissolved, and modes of coercion should be understood to leave subjective imprints—not at the level of identity but at the level of thought’s infrastructure, that is, form.

Abstract [sv]

Föreliggande avhandling utforskar normaliseringsprocesser och problem rörande appropriering i samband med arbetskonflikter. Avhandlingen analyserar hur sam-tida arbetskonflikter i sjuksköterskeprofessionen relaterar till och sålunda belyser förändrad genusnormalisering i en nyliberal tid, samt hur dessa konflikter belyser övergripande konfliktmönster i arbetslivet. Analysen påvisar hur en ”dygdighets-norm” kopplad till långlivade modaliteter av genusnormalisering sammanvävs med en form av abstrakt arbete relaterad till sentida NPM-reformer. Men medan denna omstruktureringsprocess urholkar den autonomi som professioner i offentlig sektor länge innehaft medför den också möjligheter till kollektiva motståndshandlingar. Vidare möjliggör denna nyliberala omstrukturering sjuksköterskors—liksom andra offentliga professioners—appropriering av diskurser och ideal som var centrala i den tidigare, keynesianska, välfärdsstaten; men detta är en motsägelsefull process då dessa diskurser och ideal är sprungna ur, och präglade av, historier av utsugning och normalisering. Analysen visar att medan appropriering visserligen riskerar att reproducera former av normalisering underlättar denna strategi mobilisering och kan i förlängningen omvandla övertagna diskurser och ideal. Denna intervjustudie är huvudsakligen baserad på fyra artiklar: de analyserar olika aspekter av en kollektiv uppsägningsaktion bland sjuksköterskor vid en sjukhus-avdelning. Detta är en framväxande typ av aktion i Sverige och avhandlingen är en av de första studierna av denna gräsrots- och arbetsplatsbaserade kampform, vilket kan ses som dess empiriska forskningsbidrag. I kappan förs, å andra sidan, en kon-tinuerlig teoretisk diskussion kring normalisering och appropriering som utvecklar teman som lyfts i de enskilda artiklarna. Diskussionen kretsar kring ett visst form-begrepp, som härrör ur marxistisk och feministisk teori och som påvisar en identitet mellan tankeform och praktiskt artikulerad form. Dessa former migrerar; de uttrycks omedvetet i praktiker där individens fokus är annorstädes och projiceras sedan på andra praktiker. I diskussionen ifrågasätts sålunda vedertagna förståelser av norma-lisering: det är teoretiskt ofruktbart att ställa omedvetna, interna, former av kontroll där lydnad eller konformitet uppnås via internaliseringen av påbjudna identiteter mot medvetna, externa, eller tvingande, former av kontroll. En häri latent dikotomi om materia respektive form bör upplösas i syfte att synliggöra hur ett slags kontroll över arbete lämnar subjektiverande avtryck, inte genom att påbjuda identifikationer utan genom att forma vad som kan beskrivas som tänkandets minsta beståndsdelar.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Mittuniversitetet, 2016. 80 p.
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 241
appropriation, dialectics, feminism, gender, ideal worker, labor conflict, Marxism, neoliberalism, normalization, NPM, real abstraction, real subsumption
National Category
Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-27171 (URN)978-91-88025-58-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-04-29, sal L111, Mittuniversitetet Sundsvall, Sundsvall, 10:00

Vid tidpunkten för disputationen var följande delarbeten opublicerade: delarbete 2 och 4 inskickat.

At the time of the doctoral defence the following papers were unpublished: paper 2 and 4 submitted.

Available from: 2016-03-17 Created: 2016-03-03 Last updated: 2016-03-21Bibliographically approved

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