I’ve decided to submit two abstracts for the ISIH conference next year.
The first follows some work I’ve been doing for a chapter I’m writing for an upcoming book by Franziska Trede and Celina McEwen titled ‘Educating the deliberate professional: Preparing practitioners for emergent futures’, and looks at the historical role played by artisans and whether professions like physiotherapy might find some meaningful and interesting ways to reinvent this role in 21st century health care. This is the first abstract:
Re-inventing artisans for 21st century health careCalls for health professionals to be more than ‘technical rationalists’ have been prominent in professionalization literature for more than half a century. Professions with a strong history of skills-based competence have struggled more than most to respond to these calls. Those that have been heavily influenced by biomedical discourses – professions like dentistry, osteopathy, physiotherapy and podiatry – appear to be doubly disadvantaged because of biomedicine’s strong affinity for Cartesian Dualism and its reductive tendencies. Foucault reminds us, however, that no power can ever be total, and that power always carries with it the possibility for resistance. Consequently, we have seen in recent years a number of counter-narratives emerge within the professions allied to medicine that call for new forms of ‘deliberate’ practice. Using physiotherapy as a paradigm case, I explore the history of the present of physiotherapy’s long affinity with biomechanical discourses drawing on Hannah Arendt’s work in The Human Condition. Arendt’s conceptualisation of action, making, behaviour and fabrication are deployed to re-examine the concept of the artisan; a once predominant mode of labour relation that fell into decline with the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of mass-market economies. In recent years, the artisan has returned as a form of resistance to consumer culture, and it appears that people people in advanced economies are looking to more bespoke, embodied experiences – even in their everyday purchasing decisions. To this end, I examine whether the artisan might create the necessary conditions where traditionally skills-based professions may finally break free from the constraints of biomedical rationalism and engage in more ‘deliberate’ modes of practise.
The second abstract references work I’ve been doing for a number of years now, looking at the history of physiotherapy before it became a legitimate and orthodox health profession. I’m particularly interested in the way the women who founded the profession used a very ‘masculine’ model of practice and exerted this over other women of similar age and social standing to get a foot hold as a new profession. Here’s the second abstract:
Suffrage suspended? Counter-narratives of womens’ quest for professional legitimacyA great deal has been written about the role the suffrage movement played in the development of nursing and midwifery during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Much of this research points to roles played by middle- and upper-class women in professionalizing socially validated notions of caring, and the importance of this in demarcating practice territories that complemented the work of (male) physicians. Little attention has been paid, however, to the development of new professional identities for women at the margins of nursing and midwifery. In 1895, the Society of Trained Masseuses (STM) was formed by a small group of nurses and midwives in an attempt to legitimize massage and establish it as a worthy career for educated women. Many of the Society’s founders were firmly committed to female suffrage, yet evidence suggests that they knowingly adopted overtly androcentric ideologies to establish their profession’s subordinate relationship to medicine. Critically, members of the STM took advantage of neurasthenia – one of the most prevalent disorders of the late nineteenth century – to establish their credibility. The preferred treatment for neurasthenia was known as the Rest Cure, an approach that has been heavily criticised for the paternalistic, infantilizing attitudes of it’s male proponents. The Rest Cure involved strict isolation, force feeding, and a range of passive therapies that would become the basis of the STM’s scope of practice. In this paper I argue that the women who founded the STM used neurasthenic women to establish their legitimacy and create a new professional identity that manifests today as physiotherapy. I argue that physiotherapy may be the first female-dominated profession to make a virtue of overtly androcentric ideologies in order to establish and legitimize new professional roles for women.
If you haven’t made your submission yet and are keen to attend, the process is very easy. Go to the conference website and follow the links through to the abstract submission site. The deadline for submission is 15 November 2014.