Discretion, Commitment and Invisible Work: An exploration of the labour process of community nurses

  • Lise Elliott

Student thesis: Phd


This study is about community nurses working in a large city in the North of England, who are employed by a NHS Trust. It explores the nature of the nurses' work and details their labour process. The study is ethnographic in nature and the research methods used focus specifically on the work and the worker. The findings of the study show that labour process theory can be used successfully to illuminate and provide understanding of the labour of public sector workers. However, in doing so it has highlighted some theoretical challenges, these centre on the relationship between some workers and the human product of their labour process. The findings from the study suggest that further theoretical work is needed to ensure that labour process theory remains a relevant and useful analytical tool for the study of all workers, in the public sector. This study will be of interest to nurses, healthcare workers and other public sector workers. It will also be of interest to employers (and managers) within the public sector; particularly those who employ workers who provide care-giving labour. The study will also be of relevance to academics who have an interest in industrial sociology and the analysis of work using labour process theory.
Date of Award31 Dec 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorDamian Hodgson (Supervisor) & Elizabeth Mcdonald (Supervisor)


  • Labour Process Theory
  • Community Nurses
  • Ethnography
  • NHS

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