A poststructural rethinking of the ethics of technology in relation to the provision of palliative home care by district nurses

M Nagington, C Walshe, K Luker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Technology and its interfaces with nursing care, patients and carers, and the home are many and varied. To date, healthcare services research has generally focussed on pragmatic issues such access to and the optimization of technology, while philosophical inquiry has tended to focus on the ethics of how technology makes the home more hospital like. However, the ethical implications of the ways in which technology shapes the subjectivities of patients and carers have not been explored. In order to explore this, poststructural theory, in particular the work of Butler, Foucault, and Deleuze, is used to theorize the relationship between subjectivity and materiality as ethically mandated on producing rather than precluding the development of subjectivities in novel ways. This theoretical understanding is then utilized through a process of ‘plugged in’ as described by Jackson and Massie that aims to link empirical data, research, and philosophical inquiry. Through this process, it is suggested that power, which the empirical data demonstrate, is frequently exercised through medical discourses and restricts patients' and carers' ability to shape the material environment of the home as a place to live and be cared for in palliative stages of illness. Alternative discourses are suggested both from the empirical data as well as other research, which may offer patients and carers the possibility of reclaiming power over the home and their subjectivities. Finally, the dichotomy between the home and hospital, mediated via technology, is posited as being problematic. It is argued the dichotomy is false and should be moved away from in order to allow an ethical embrace of technology in palliative care.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)59-70
    JournalNursing Philosophy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2015


    • technology; district nursing; home care nursing; poststructural; palliative care; ethics


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