Theorising the hospice gaze: A Foucauldian collaborative ethnography of a palliative day care service

David Holman, Maurice Nagington, Clare Mumford, Leo McCann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Downloads (Pure)


Foucault's medical gaze has only been minimally applied to palliative care through the analysis of key policy documents. This paper develops the conceptualisation of Foucault's medical gaze using empirical data gathered from a group ethnography of a hospice daycare centre. Using Foucault's medical gaze as a theoretical aporia we conceptualise the “hospice gaze”. We argue the hospice gaze is the antithesis of the Foucauldian medical gaze, suggesting it operates reflexively so that professionals adapt to patients, rather than patients to professionals; that it is directed towards enabling patients and their loved ones to narrate severe illness and death in ways that develop more patient-centred narratives; and, structures the processes of care in direct resistance to the neoliberalisation of healthcare by engaging in slow practices of care with patient's bodies and minds. Finally, key to all of this is how the hospice gaze manages the spaces of care to ensure that it always and already appears slow to the patients. Therefore, the hospice gaze ensures a (re)distribution of power and knowledge that minimises the corrosive qualities of busyness and maximises the ethical potentials of slowness. We conclude by arguing that the operation of the hospice gaze should be examined in other settings where palliative care is practiced such as in-patient and home care services.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Theorising the hospice gaze: A Foucauldian collaborative ethnography of a palliative day care service'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this