Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science

Dissertation Committee

Jane M. Georges, PhD, RN, Chair; Kathy Shadle James, DNSc, NP; Alex Kodiath, EdD


Feminism, narrative, nursing, power dynamics, Staff Nurses, women


Acts of resistance can be expressions of creativity, protest or non-cooperation by oppressed groups. Resistance is seen as always present in the face of domination. Acts of resistance can help us to understand how the powerless mediate power relations, and they can actually give hope to the powerless. This study looked at the issues of power and resistance through critical and feminist perspective. A central concept of feminist theory is that women, and thus nurses as a women's profession, are oppressed. This study looked at female nurses' acts of resistance, which were defined as speaking up or taking action about injustice, oppression or unequal power relations in their work setting. No previous studies have explored this area. The purpose of the study was to relate and interpret female staff nurses' stories of their experience in the acts of resistance. By conducting this emancipatory inquiry, I sought to understand how nurse respond to oppression through their acts of resistance. The ultimate goal is social change and transformation. The study used a feminist participatory approach and qualitative narrative method. Eleven female nurses were asked for their stories of acts of resistance. The narratives were analyzed using an approach that combined the methods of other narrative researchers. The narratives of these eleven nurses revealed their experiences in the hierarchical world health care. The nurses recognized the concepts of acts of resistance and oppression, even if they did not use that language. They told of their acts of resistance with unjust managers and abusive physicians. Some of them took action immediately, while others weighed the consequences for a long period, before acting. All the participants agreed that they would take similar actions again. The issues of power, oppression and resistance become real when related by these participants. The underlying hope is that their words will spark nurses and the public to examine the inequities existing in the health care system and demand real change.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons