‘You Can’t Take It Personally’: Emotion Management as Part of the Professional Nurse’s Role
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Keywords (English)emotion management, organisational culture, ethnomethodology, organisational norms in practice, nursing, professional roles
This study looks into the culture of nursing professionals in the present-day Czech health-care system at a time of personal, generational, and educational transitions (reforms), which have driven a change of organisational-cultural means in the relationship between two key professions: doctors and nurses. The article presents the results of a biographical study of nurses, paying detailed attention to their emotional labour in cooperation with doctors in accident and emergency ward settings. The study draws on the concept of organisational culture in practice/action, on a Goffmanian and Garfinkelian ethnomethodology of scripts of interaction (rules, norms) in order to reconstruct the feeling rules that govern a nurse’s emotional display and her role in cooperating with doctors. The article stresses the importance of emotion management as a substantial part of the gendered professional identities of health-care workers and discusses the situations when nurses’ subordinate status requires a kind of stressful emotion management to keep the doctor-nurse professional relationship intact, which is not required from doctors. The study also presents a variety of coping strategies or practices normalising these morally questionable feeling rules and norms, which guide action as an integral part of the ordinary practices of the social organisation of the nurse’s occupation in hospital settings.