facilitate their administrative job of cutting staff to meet budget constraints and
uphold their place at the wheel, steering their political authority in some directions
of their own choosing.
Nurses have long been thought of as a single occupational group. This chapter
should make clear that the workplace lives of modern nurses are highly
differentiated. The nursing profession, along with other white collar occupations,
is not one monolithic group but rather a highly segmented one, with wide
variations in levels of control and autonomy.
Nurses in low class positions have little power economically, ideologically, or
politically. They are white-collar employees who share the plight of the working
In high class positions are the administrative nurses who control their
colleagues and enjoy influence outside the hospital. They share many of the
powers and privileges of professionals.
Placed in a contradictory class position are middle managerial nurses. They
find themselves pulled simultaneously in two directions: by forces of
professionalization from above, by forces of proletarianzation from below.
1. As Wright states, "Contradictory class locations are variable rather than all or
nothing characteristics.... Certain positions can be thought of as occupying a
contradictory location around the boundary of the proletariat: others occupying a
contradictory location around the boundary of the bourgeoisie" ( Wright, 1976: 74-77).
From here on, I will refer to such class positions as simply high, medium, or
low, depending on their levels of control, bearing in mind that all are contradictory.
Although I wanted to examine change over time in the workforces at St. John's
and Mt. Zion, these data were not made available to me.
Regionally, hospital unionism tends to be more concentrated in the Northeast
( New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts), on the Pacific coast ( California, Oregon,
and Washington), and in the Midwest ( Minnesota and Michigan), plus Hawaii ( Miller, 1979:30).
The 1985 proposal was a resolution passed by the ANA in 1965 calling for the
bachelor's degree as a requirement for entry into nursing practice by 1985. Recently the ANA set 1995 as the new target date for this credentialism in nursing since the previous
date has come and gone with its goal unmet ( American Journal of Nursing, 1984:832).
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Health Care's Forgotten Majority:Nurses and Their Frayed White Collars.
Contributors: Jacqueline Goodman-Draper - Author.
Publisher: Auburn House.
Place of publication: Westport, CT.
Publication year: 1995.
Page number: 86.
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