Gender and the Public Sector: Professionals and Managerial Change

By Jim Barry; Mike Dent et al. | Go to book overview

10

Ministering angels and the virtuous profession

Service and professional identity

Heather Höpfl

'No interaction with the patient'

The paper had its origins in a small pilot study which was conducted after the completion of a large-scale cross-national study of life and work values in the UK, France and India, conducted at Lancaster University in the late 1980s. The pilot study drew on the findings of the cross-national study and, in particular, used the research instrument developed for the study in order to undertake a preliminary investigation of professional identity in nurses. The principal research instrument for the larger study was the repertory grid technique (Kelly 1955; 1963; Fransella and Bannister 1977) and to test the research instrument a small pilot study was conducted with a group of nurses from the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. The sample group consisted of only ten nurses. The pilot study was extraneous to the main study and concerned with emergent methodological issues. However, the results of this small piece of research were intriguing and deserved further examination. The purpose of the grids was to detect principal constructs related to the attitudes and values of a given occupation. Clearly, there are issues related to the selection of an appropriate research instrument and the repertory grid is not without its critics. In particular, the repertory grid has been criticised from a number of different positions for the problems associated with the framing of the constructs in the elicitation process and for the use of statistical methods in its analysis. However, one appealing feature of the grid is the fact that it provides the opportunity to get behind assumptions that are taken for granted and well-rehearsed attitudes. Consequently, the grid provides a means of tapping social constructs that are not part of the stock of responses which can so easily become the substance of interview data.

Without wishing to give undue endorsement to the technique, the repertory grid provides a useful tool for the preliminary isolation and detection of issues for further elaboration. A reasonably accessible introduction to the tool can be found in Kelly's 1963 book The Theory of Personality: The Psychology of Personal Constructs.

However, having said this, it would be inappropriate to give any weight to the small sample of nurses' grids in the pilot study. Nonetheless, a broad outline of the findings is pertinent to this discussion. The grids revealed that

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Gender and the Public Sector: Professionals and Managerial Change
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements xvi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Contexts and Networks 13
  • 1 - New Labour, Governance and the Politics of Diversity 15
  • Notes 25
  • 2 - Gendered States, Critical Engagements 27
  • 3 - Managing Transformation? 44
  • 4 - Gender, Welfare Regimes and the Medical Profession in France and Greece 65
  • Notes 80
  • Part II - Managing Professional Work 83
  • 5 - Identifying the Professional 'Man'Ager 85
  • 6 - Women's Positioning in a Bureaucratic Environment 104
  • 7 - Plural Frames of Work in Public Sector Organisations 120
  • Note 133
  • 8 - On the Front Line 136
  • 9 - Hard Nosed or Pink and Fluffy? 154
  • References 168
  • 10 - Ministering Angels and the Virtuous Profession 170
  • References 184
  • Part III - Identity and Biography 187
  • 11 - Gendered Narratives of the Management of Residential Care Homes 189
  • 12 - The Problematic Professional 205
  • References 216
  • Index 218
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