Accepted Paper:

Low symbolic capital, interdisciplinary boundary-work and gendered relations of power in the case of nursing research and gender studies  


Pia Vuolanto (University of Tampere)

Paper long abstract:

The presentation discusses the relations between epistemic cultures with low symbolic capital, nursing research and gender studies. It seeks to understand how their relationship is interlinked with gendered relations of power. It draws on Bourdieu's power/knowledge framework and Gieryn's concept 'boundary work'.

Nursing research's low academic status links with the professional-vocational background, female and mature students and researchers, small size and low female voice in the academy. Gender studies's vulnerable academic status has to do with its being small size, political, interdisciplinary, single-sex and female-centred. The fields seem to share an ambivalent and gendered relation with the discipline they are organisationally often coupled with, gender studies with sociology and nursing research with medicine.

The presentation bases on rhetorical analysis of nearly 200 abstracts in scientific journals in 1984-2014. Five articulations were found typical of the relationship: 1) gender studies develop and reform nursing research tradition, 2) gender studies help to highlight the socio-political context in nursing research, 3) gender studies and social research benefit from nursing research, 4) gender studies open eyes to the subordinate position of nursing research in the academy, and 5) there is resistance toward feminism inside nursing research. The relationship between nursing research and gender studies was found to be tinged with the power of medicine that attempts to control and intervene with the relationship. The analysis also gives evidence of positive synergies that the disciplines find with each other to overcome their subordinate positions in the academic community.

Panel J1
Situating gendered solidarities in epistemic cultures of science, technology, and other areas of academic practice