‘Looking like a bad person’: vocabulary of motives and narrative analysis in a story of nursing collegiality

Nursing Inquiry 22 (3):221-230 (2015)
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Abstract

Collegiality among nurses is necessary for the accomplishment of the tasks of care, for safety and quality improvement and for professional self‐regulation. Nurses, especially in hospitals, are more likely to work in groups than other professionals, yet those relationships have not been well explored. Bullying, intimidation and fear are frequently identified, while respectful disagreements are rarely described. In this paper, a single story by a nurse about her conversational conflict with another nurse is given a close reading. I use the ‘triadic line’ of William Carlos Williams to format an extended excerpt of interview text, in order to make visible the rhythms and organization of spoken language. Mills' concept of a ‘vocabulary of motives’ is used to examine the rhetorical strategies deployed by each nurse. Finally, I analyze the narrative structure of the story, highlighting the ways that moral certainty and uncertainty function to involve the reader in the story, and the complex role of virtue in nursing discourse.

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