Making things work: Using Bourdieu's theory of practice to uncover an ontology of everyday nursing in practice

Nursing Philosophy 23 (2):e12377 (2022)
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Seeking to answer the question of what it is that nurses do, scholars researching nursing have worked with theoretical approaches ranging from the more abstract to the concrete: from philosophizing the nature of nursing to emphasizing the interpersonal nature of nursing practice to exploring processes of clinical decision‐making. In this paper, we engage with Bourdieu's theory of practice as an alternative approach that helps to understand the finer points of nurses' everyday practices of nursing as being grounded in an ontology of practice. We first outline the foundations of Bourdieu's thinking as he established both a relational philosophy of science and an embodied philosophy of action to develop the theory of practice around notions of habitus, capital and field. Then, using the inter‐relationships of these key elements of the theory of practice as a ‘toolkit to think with’, we explore an instance of nursing in practice in an acute care setting and show how, in taking account of social context, the dialectics between the elements reveal the social interactions that are accomplished in the doing. Moving to the relationships of these three elements with Bourdieu's further notions of illusio, symbolic power and symbolic violence, we uncover an ontology of nursing practices in the everyday. We conclude by summarising what this ontology of practice has to offer investigations into practices of nursing in any social context.



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References found in this work

Social space and symbolic power.Pierre Bourdieu - 1989 - Sociological Theory 7 (1):14-25.
The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature.Pierre Bourdieu & Randal Johnson - 1996 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54 (1):88-90.
Mythos und Mythopathologie.Ottokar G. Wittgenstein - 1980 - Archive for the Psychology of Religion 14 (1):142-152.
The 'well‐run' system and its antimonies.Trudy Rudge - 2011 - Nursing Philosophy 12 (3):167-176.

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