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Climbing invisible ladders : how nurse's aides craft lateral careers

Abstract : Based on a field study combining biographical interviews and direct observation, this article examines the types of 'career' available to French hospital staff working under the title 'aide-soignante' (nurse's aide) but exercising a variety of duties in different establishments and wards. Whether their careers lead them to practise as 'quasi-nurses' where they perform nursing tasks without having the status and remuneration of a nurse, or to fulfil varied functions in a variety of working conditions within a 'horizontal career', they testify to the ambiguities of this occupation: it occupies an intermediary location within the paramedical hierarchy, yet it is difficult to move up from it to the level above; it is a devalued job, yet it has some value for those who practise it in the light of their past occupational and social trajectories; it is an occupation whose very fuzziness helps the institution to adjust staff numbers and skills according to its own needs. Under such conditions, the mobility of aide soignantes between differentiated posts enables them to make the best of difficult working conditions and to 'make a career' for themselves without changing their official status.
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Contributor : Anne-Marie Arborio <>
Submitted on : Sunday, November 15, 2020 - 5:16:00 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - 3:48:48 AM
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Anne-Marie Arborio. Climbing invisible ladders : how nurse's aides craft lateral careers. Ethnography, SAGE Publications, 2004, 5 (1), pp.75-105. ⟨halshs-00005129⟩

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