Laughing It Off: Uncovering the Everyday Work Experience of Nurses

  • Valerie Adams


During research towards her doctoral dissertation, the author noticed that nurses understated the conditions in which they worked. Seeking to understand how nursing culture shapes how nurses describe their work, she developed a “toolbox” of reflexive methods. She used metaphors of nursing and emotion expressed as laughter to identify aspects of nursing culture in semistructured interviews with nurses working in Australian residential aged care facilities. She also incorporated autoethnography, as she had worked as a registered nurse while studying economics. The inclusion of her voice in the data illustrates the difference between nursing culture and another worldview. These pluralist methods made explicit some of the effects of gendered socialization, such as understatement and self-consciousness, and demonstrate how they are embedded in nursing culture. Awareness of such norms is important for understanding marketized caring labor. This combination of methods has significance for uncovering workplace culture in other forms of marketized caring.