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J Nurs Adm. 2006 May;36(5):249-58.

The positive face of resistance: nurses relate their stories.

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Department of Nursing, California State University Fullerton, Fullerton, Calif, USA.



To relate nurses' stories of their experiences of acts of resistance.


Although resistance is often characterized as negative, it can be seen as a way that the less powerful speak up about workplace concerns. By studying how nurses resist, new perspectives about how some groups exercise power may be understood.


For this qualitative study, 19 nurses were interviewed. They were asked to describe an act of resistance in their professional life. The interviews were tape recorded, transcribed, and then analyzed using narrative methods.


Four major categories emerged from the narratives: definitions of resistance, relationships, core narratives, and creating meaning. This article focuses on 2 of these for space constraints and relevance to this journal: relationships and creating meaning.


The nurses interviewed described situations in their work lives, where they felt that they performed an act of resistance because of unfair treatment, abuse of power, or ethical concerns. It often took courage to do so, but the acts had mainly positive effects on them and their institutions. It is theorized that resistance may actually be positive for both the staff nurse and the organization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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