Uncaring Nurses: Mobilizing Power, Knowledge, Difference, and Resistance to Explain Workplace Violence in Academia

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Abstract

Background and Purpose:

Violence among nurses and in nursing academia is a significant issue, with attention increasingly focused on damage resulting from psychological violence, such as bullying, harassment, aggression, and incivility. Each workplace's interpretation of violence will impact individual behavior within the organization. Organizational and environmental factors can contribute to violent behaviors becoming normalized in the workplace. When violent behaviors go unconstrained, they become imbedded within the workplace culture. An increased understanding of workplace culture is required to address workplace violence. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how the use of this theoretical framework can provide greater understanding of the role of workplace culture in sustaining violent behaviors in nursing academia.

Methods:

The theoretical perspectives of Gail Mason on interpersonal violence and Michel Foucault on power were utilized to inform the research process and guide data analysis.

Results:

The framework makes possible the exposure of a dominant discourse perpetuating violence in nursing academia. Power and violence were found to work together to shape knowledge and influence group norms and behaviors.

Implications for Practice:

The framework is useful in providing greater understanding of how the concepts of power, knowledge, difference, and resistance support the enactment of workplace violence. Investigating the influence of these concepts in the development of accepted practices and discourses may allow greater insight into ways violence and power are used to negotiate and enforce organizational rules and norms.

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