The Gender Perspective in Nursing Research: A Theoretical Treasure Chest or a ‘Thorn’ in the Side?

Minerva 55 (3):371-390 (2017)
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Abstract

This article contributes to the current discussion on interdisciplinarity in the health research field. It focuses on the relationship between nursing research and gender research. Nursing research is a ‘health sciences’ field which draws from the social sciences, the humanities, and biomedicine. Previous research shows the difficulties that social scientists face in their efforts to integrate with biomedical scientists. The aim of this article is to analyse nursing researchers’ views about one potential collaboration partner in the social sciences and humanities: gender research. The study draws its theoretical insights from research within the sociology of science. It uses ideas about the intertwining of power and knowledge, which is especially emphasised in the works of Pierre Bourdieu. The research material consists of 180 abstracts of nursing research articles that argue in some way about the relationship between nursing research and gender research. The Scopus database was selected because it covers nursing research in a broad sense. The scope of the study is long. The close reading of abstracts is inspired by rhetorical discourse analysis. We found three clearly different but also overlapping discourses that justified gender perspectives in nursing research: Gender research helps to highlight the socio-political context in nursing research; Gender research develops or reforms the nursing research tradition; and Gender research exists as a form of critique within nursing research. Most of the nursing research abstracts regard gender research positively for both external and internal reasons. The abstracts also demonstrate the tensions in the relationship and discuss the views and reasons that generate scepticism towards gender research in nursing research.

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