Critical discourse analysis of social justice in nursing's foundational documents

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Abstract

Objective:

Social inequities threaten the health of the global population. A superficial acknowledgement of social justice by nursing's foundational documents may limit the degree to which nurses view injustice as relevant to nursing practice and education. The purpose was to examine conceptualizations of social justice and connections to broader contexts in the most recent editions.

Design:

Critical discourse analysis examines and uncovers dynamics related to power, language, and inequality within the American Nurses Association's Code of Ethics, Scope and Standards of Practice, and Social Policy Statement.

Results:

This analysis found ongoing inconsistencies in conceptualizations of social justice. Although the Code of Ethics integrates concepts related to social justice far more than the other two, tension between professionalism and social change emerges. The discourse of professionalism renders interrelated cultural, social, economic, historical, and political contexts nearly invisible.

Conclusion:

Greater consistency would provide a clearer path for nurses to mobilize and engage in the courageous work necessary to address social injustice. These findings also call for an examination of how nurses can critique and use the power and privilege of professionalism to amplify the connection between social institutions and health equity in nursing education, practice, and policy development.

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