Kirsten Beedholm

How discourses of social vulnerability can influence nurse-patient interactions: A Foucauldian analysis

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  • Sanne Møller Kröner, Department of Healthcare Administration, Copenhagen Municipality, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Kirsten Beedholm

This article uncovers the current discursive practices concerning socially vulnerable people in Danish society. A discourse analytical approach inspired by Michel Foucault, along with contributions from Erving Goffmann's work ‘Stigma’, is utilized throughout the analysis. First, the dominant discursive formations are described across the data material, consisting of sociopolitical and health policy documents. Second, we uncover how problematizations and mechanisms of power along with the emergence of the competition state push socially vulnerable people out into the periphery of society. Finally, we discuss responsibility regarding social vulnerability and the structural injustice that follows. Our aim is to facilitate critical awareness of how socially vulnerable people are constructed and contribute to destabilizing accepted meanings and perceptions of social vulnerability. This study shows that being categorized as socially vulnerable is associated with poor health behavior and perceived as being in a dependent relationship with superior systems. The analysis points to a focus on strengthening and developing the work capacity of socially vulnerable people. Thus, the objective of the analyzed documents revolves around securing socially vulnerable people's contribution to society's economy. This article contributes with a perspective on how society, and therefore also healthcare professionals, perceive and interact with socially vulnerable people.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12309
JournalNursing Inquiry
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

    Research areas

  • discourse, foucault, health inequity, healthcare, marginalization, nurse-patient interaction, power relations, stigma

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