Struggling for legitimacy: Nursing students' stories of organisational aggression, resilience and resistance

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Journal Article
Nursing Inquiry, 2011, 18 (2), pp. 102 - 110
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There is a considerable body of literature scrutinising and theorising negative and hostile behaviour such as violence and interpersonal conflict in the nursing workplace. However, relatively little empirical work has examined the experiences of undergraduate nursing students in the context of negative workplace cultures, and even fewer studies have explored how students develop and enact strategies to counter hostile behaviours in the clinical workplace. Based on qualitative analysis of open-ended survey questions, this study explored undergraduate students' experiences of negative behaviours in the clinical environment to identify strategies used to manage and resist such behaviours. While dominant individuals in the clinical environment sought to enforce and uphold their version of legitimacy - one where students were relegated to complete subordination - the tenacity and resourcefulness of students was evident in their attempts to counter this oppression with acts of resistance. Our findings provide new and valuable insights into organisational aggression and acts of resistance in the nursing workplace. The resistance offered by these students draws attention to the struggles for legitimacy within institutions. In drawing attention to organisational aggression as a mechanism by which students are 'othered' through pejorative behaviour, homogenisation, and de-authentication, and the dynamics of resistance offered by these student nurses, we provide an alternative explanation of nursing socialisation. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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