Beyond nursing nihilism, a N ietzschean transvaluation of neoliberal values

Nursing Philosophy 15 (2):112-124 (2014)
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Abstract

Like most goods‐producing sectors in the West, modern health‐care systems have been profoundly changed by globalization and the neoliberal policies that attend it. Since the 1970s, the role of the welfare state has been considerably reduced; funding and management of health systems have been subjected to wave upon wave of reorganization and assimilated to the private sector. At the same time, neoliberal policy has imposed the notion of patient empowerment, thus turning patients into consumers of health. The literature on nursing has accordingly reported on the significant repercussions on all aspects of the profession, from delivery of care and treatment, through training for new nurses, to legislated policy reforms regarding the role and responsibilities of modern nurses. In light of these developments, this paper analyses and theorizes about the way the injection of neoliberal policy is linked to and affects the practice of nursing. Drawing on a number of Nietzschean arguments, we begin with an exploration of the complex effects of neoliberalism, bureaucratization, and technocratization on the health system and the practice of nursing. Our main theoretical point here is that neoliberal policy engenders and promotes a neoliberal tide, which results in the conversion of the values that drive modern nursing practice. We then examine this tide in the light of Nietzsche's concepts. Starting with an analysis based on the ontology of the will to power, we show that nurses are dominated by neoliberal values embedded in technocratic and bureaucratic ideologies. Finally, we argue that the application of neoliberal policy constitutes a form of domestication from which one might potentially be freed through the Nietzschean concept of transvaluation of values. This transvaluation, as its freeing from some of the neoliberal tide, may be accomplished in accordance with a hierarchy of specific life‐affirming values for nursing culture and practice.

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References found in this work

On the genealogy of morality.Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - 1994 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Keith Ansell-Pearson & Carol Diethe.
The will to power.Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - 1924 - London,: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Edited by Walter Arnold Kaufmann & R. J. Hollingdale.
The affirmation of life: Nietzsche on overcoming nihilism.Bernard Reginster - 2006 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
The will to power.Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - 1924 - New York,: Random House. Edited by Walter Arnold Kaufmann & R. J. Hollingdale.

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