British Born Female Caribbean Registered Nurses: Can Group Identity and Occupational Identity be Reconciled?

Sunday, 10 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Beverley BRATHWAITE, Univesity of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
For Christiansen (1999, p. 551) occupational identity provide an important central figure in a self-narrative or life story that provides coherence and meaning for everyday events and life itself. ‘Hall and DuGay(1996) and Brah (1992) argue that as ethnic identities lack fixed meaning the actual content of an ethnic identity is dependent on the context’. This highlights the importance of context and identity as a social category for black nurses of Caribbean heritage in nursing, being context sensitive, a social category and a group (Tajfel and Turner 1979; Turner, Brown, and Tajfel, 1979; Turner, Oakes, Haslam, and Mc Garty, 1994)    

The past and present for British born Caribbean nurses (BBCN) is one of colonialism, from cultural imposition, the all-powerful British ‘motherland’, to nurses being asked to come over and ‘help’ the new National Health Service in the mid-20th Century to train as nurses. This recognises a ‘power identity nexus’ of white dominance and supremacy (Marsh and Macalpine, 2002, p.8). “Whiteness” propagates a negative and unequal and less powerful ‘other’ assumption of Caribbean women’s gender, ethnic and cultural identity (Mirza and Sheridan, 2003, p. 11-12). This can have a significant bearing on the social and occupational identity of the descendants of these black Caribbean nurses. The BBCN are their daughters and granddaughters born in England.

Using the social identity theory of group interaction by Tajfel and Turner (1979) there is a theoretical space to use nursing as an occupation; professionally and in the clinical environment, to conceptualising the impact that inequality between white nurse as an in-group, that is dominant and one of privilege, in ‘opposition’ to the unequal subordinate group of disadvantage (Powell, et al, p.508) that comes with being a member of the out-group that is the BBCN, considering their ethnicity, culture and gender.