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Staying power: the career journeys of leading African, African-Caribbean and Asian nurses in England

By Vina Mayor


This thesis is the first research of its kind to examine the career journeys of leading African, African-Caribbean and Asian, male and female, nurses' careers in England, and adds substantially to our extremely limited knowledge concerning the black professional class in Britain. It examines the barriers, the career opportunities, personal motivations and cultural capital that the respondents drew upon to negotiate and deal with racialised social and professional structures from the entry gate into nursing to their current appointments as senior managers in nursing, nurse management, research or nurse education. This study has considerable policy relevance in view of the National Health Service (NHS) commitment to recruit qualified nurses from overseas to combat the nursing labour market shortages. The research was conducted in three phases over a period of six years using an oral biography / life history approach to obtain narratives from eighty-eight black respondents working and domiciled in England. \ud It revealed that the group of black nurses who had reached senior levels had became highly qualified and had contributed to service, policy, education and research development at the local level. There is also substantial evidence of their contribution to nursing at national and international levels. The findings also reveal that respondents experienced self-reported unequal treatment at the entry gate and throughout their career. The staying power and career journeys of these respondents show that the intersection between social structures of class, 'race' / ethnicity and gender, and personal agency is important in shaping careers and is influenced by social, professional, political shifts and constraints, suggesting that how individuals negotiate and deal with racialised barriers is linked to both their 'stocks' of cultural capital and their personal motivations and determinations. This structure-agency relationship counters much of the research on 'race' and occupation which has looked primarily at racialised structural barriers to advancement

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