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The ‘well-run’ system and its antimonies

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An aim of all of the management of healthcare systems is the smooth provision of services. A great deal of effort is put into ensuring processes will obtain this ideal – the well-run system. The central argument in this paper is that these processes result in a system that perpetrates violence and coercion on its clients and workers. This violence is structural and personalizing in its effects. Moreover, time and effort is taken away from the actual work of the system for its management. Under such managerialist control, the idea of chaos and the need to ensure order are used to fuel an apparatus that takes the focus from other aspects of the system such as the power relations that keep the system as it is. In such an ordering, the clinical audit is promoted as a method to ensure order by keeping ahead of, or removing the potential for chaos. In using Žižek's ideas about violence it is possible to identify how efforts and attempts to correct the system are doomed to fail just as they hide how nurses' enrolment in the service of the system leads to alienation and subjectification. A central aim of this paper is to rethink how power and implicit violence are practised in such processes. To overcome the inherent violence of the audit culture, this paper suggests an interruption of audit cultures with a promotion of more radical positions for nursing practice and clinically based research. The hope is to recalculate and interrupt how nurses are to operate in the management structures that organize healthcare.
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Keywords: alienation; audit culture; resistance; violence; Žižek

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-07-01

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