Why Nurses Should Study Sociology

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Why Should Nurses Study Sociology?
Barbara Green and Sarah Earle
Key issues in this chapter

• • • • • • • •

The difference between sociology in nursing and sociology of nursing The value of developing sociological skills Using sociological skills in nursing practice Sociological knowledge: policy, practice and change

By the end of this chapter you should be able to . . . discuss the reasons why nurses should study sociology; understand the distinction between sociology of nursing and sociology in nursing; understand the value of sociological skills; discuss the role of sociological knowledge and the future of nursing practice.

1 Introduction
As your experience in clinical practice develops you will come across patients with a wide
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This may seem difficult in the light of your limited practical experiences, or an unfamiliarity with academic study. Although ‘training’ still has a valuable part to play in nurse education, for example in the learning of practical skills such as aseptic or injection techniques, it is important to distinguish between this and the acquisition of a higher education, of which the study of sociology is an example. It is argued by Ross (1981), for example, that the concept of learning in education, as opposed to training, is characterized by discovery and transformation of thought, which suggests personal growth and a radical shift in previously held beliefs and values. Ellis (1992) describes this as a ‘personal education’. Arguably, any academic discipline in its authentic form is a valuable experience for students on vocational courses, but classical authors of sociology, notably Wright Mills (1959) and Berger (1963), would argue that the subject holds a unique fascination and distinctiveness.

Learning practical skills such as taking blood are central to becoming a nurse – but is this the limit of nursing?

Activity 2.1

Sociology in nursing or sociology of nursing?
Read Items A and B and answer the questions below. Item A is an extract from a study exploring the views of district nurses who work with clients who misuse substances. Item B is an extract from a study exploring the emergence of professional identity amongst nurses.

W H Y S H OU L D N
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