Prejudice, paradox and possibility : nursing people from cultures other than one's own : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, School of Health Sciences, Massey University, New Zealand

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
This study explores the experience of nursing a person, or people, from cultures other than the nurse’s own. Informed by the tradition of philosophical hermeneutics, and drawing specifically on some of the notions articulated by Hans-Georg Gadamer and Charles Taylor, it seeks to understand everyday nursing practices within their cultural and historical context. Against a background of Maori resurgence, nurses have been challenged in Aotearoa-New Zealand to recognise and address racism in their practice. Meeting the health needs of all people has long been important in nursing yet the curricular changes implemented in the early 1990s to enhance nursing’s contribution to a more equitable health service created uncertainty and tension both within nursing, and between nursing and the wider community. In this study, I have interpreted the experiences of seventeen nurses practising in an increasingly ethnically diverse region. Personal understandings and those from relevant literature have been used to illuminate further the nature of cross-cultural experience from a nurse’s perspective. The thesis asserts that the notions of prejudice, paradox and possibility can be used to describe the experience of nursing a person from another culture. Prejudice refers to the prior understandings that influence nursing action in both a positive and a negative sense. Paradox relates to the coexistence and necessary interplay of contradictory meanings and positions, while possibility points to the potential for new understandings to surface from the fusion of past with present, and between different interpretations. As New Zealand nurses negotiate the conflicts essential for ongoing development of their practice, the play of prejudice, paradox and possibility is evident at intra-personal and interpersonal levels as well as in relation to professional and other social discourses. This thesis challenges nurses to persist in working with the tensions inherent in cross-cultural practice. It encourages continuation of their efforts to understand and move beyond the prejudices that otherwise preclude the exploration of new possibilities.
Transcultural nursing, Māori Doctoral Thesis