You have to wait – Time as an Instrument of Power in a North American Nursing Home

Date added: December 7, 2021
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Authors: Margaret Oldfield

In this article I explore three types of time in the daily life of a North American nursing home. The first type is institutional time, the dominant force structuring daily life for both staff and residents. The second type is residents’ time, which is how residents would prefer to structure their daily lives. Both the first and second types can be measured by clocks. The third type is dementia time, the unquantifiable, fluctuating timescape of people with cognitive impairments, who comprise the majority of nursing-homes residents. Based on a critical ethnography of a North American nursing home and using a narrative approach, I show how the three types of time intersect and, in their intersection, how institutional time becomes an instrument of power. I then discuss alternative practices and structures that may lessen the power imbalances observed in the critical ethnography. Finally, I reflect on challenges with this type of time research and suggest how they may be addressed through qualitative methodologies. Oldfield, Margaret (Preprint, 2019).

Note: part of this article was published by Review of Disability Studies International in July 2021 (Vol. 17, No. 2) as “Nothing About Us Without Us”: Involving People with Dementia in Qualitative Research.

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