Health Care's Forgotten Majority: Nurses and Their Frayed White Collars

By Jacqueline Goodman-Draper | Go to book overview

ANA Economic Security Program included a no-strike clause based on this personal responsibility doctrine. By 1957 43 state nursing associations had adopted the ESP, and by 1986, SNAs represented 60 percent of all organized RNs (approximately 120,000).


CONCLUSION

The economic and political processes that transformed the organization of work in the United States since the 1870s gave rise to salaried, white collar occupations. These new occupations became stratified into segments, some with greater and some with lesser amounts of control over their work. Within the nursing profession, economic and political processes divided the occupation into distinct strata with different levels of control over their different goals in the workplace.


NOTES
1.
In 1860 only 15 percent of all women worked outside the home. However, their options increased over the next 50 years, especially in white collar sectors that expanded during World War I, such as the communications industry, advertising, and sales ( Kessler-Harris, 1982: 224).
2.
This is not to negate that such goals were shared by professional educators themselves as well.
3.
To gain insight into nurses' daily lives in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I rely on several of Reverby's ( 1982) vivid historical depictions derived from this period's nursing journals.
4.
Of course, such work varied by race and ethnicity. Irish and black women, for example, were more likely to work as domestics, and Jewish and Italian women were more likely to be garment workers ( Steinberg, 1981).
5.
Middle- and upper-class women began leaving their urban and farm homes toward the end of the 19th century despite the prevalent values that dictated leisure and the absence of paid work for such women. According to Kessler-Harris, this exodus was due to a declining birthrate and technological advances, both of which lightened the middle-class woman's burden in the home. (Some, such as Schwartz-Cowan, 1983 argue the opposite: that technology in fact increased women's work.) Nevertheless, Kessler- Harris suggests that washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and oil furnaces freed middleclass women and their daughters from the household. Although many women responded to their new situation with boredom and depression, often culminating in "neurasthenia," an illness where the prescription for recuperation was to lie in a darkened room all day, others went off to newly emerging colleges and universities of the 1870s. Some went into medicine, law, and academia, but most continued to be drawn to the pre-Civil War women's associations that focused on public altruism: cleaning up prostitution, abolishing slavery, attacking poverty and poor work conditions. By 1892 hundreds of these small women's clubs joined together and formed the General Federation of Women's Clubs. These clubs pulled women into the community, fostering the development of new

-48-

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Health Care's Forgotten Majority: Nurses and Their Frayed White Collars
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments iv
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter 1 Introduction 1
  • Notes 25
  • Chapter 2 Rise of the White Collar Worker, Ideology of Professionalism, and White Collar Strategies: The Case of Nursing 29
  • Notes 48
  • Chapter 3 Nurses' Class Position 51
  • Notes 86
  • Chapter 4 Visions of Professionalism: A Window on Class Identity 87
  • Notes 129
  • Chapter 5 Conclusion (or Where Does the Frayed Collar Go From Here?) 133
  • Note 139
  • Appendix A Professional Nurse Survey 141
  • Appendix B Survey Coding 147
  • Appendix C New York State Nurses Association: Questions and Answers About Entry into Practice 155
  • References 159
  • Index 169
  • About the Author 174
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