Towards a Foucauldian reading of the Australian mental health nursing workforce

Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2002 Mar;11(1):18-23. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-0979.2002.00221.x.


This article reflects on the findings of the recently published Scoping Study of the Australian Mental Health Nursing Workforce from the perspective of Foucault's work on 'governmentality'. First, the policy background to the scoping study is described. This is followed by a discussion of Foucauldian concepts and method that will be used to explore selected aspects of the scoping study. The related concepts of 'governmentality' and 'technologies of the self' are used to begin a theoretically grounded analysis of mental health nursing education and practice, with particular attention to discourses of 'change' and 'survival'. The examples chosen are used to support the argument that competing discourses order multiple 'readings' of Australian mental health nursing, including whether or not it is thriving or surviving. The article ends with comments on whether a Foucauldian analysis adds anything to what has been reported in the scoping study.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Australia
  • Forecasting
  • Health Planning / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Needs Assessment / organization & administration*
  • Nurse's Role
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling / organization & administration*
  • Philosophy, Nursing*
  • Power, Psychological
  • Psychiatric Nursing* / education
  • Psychiatric Nursing* / trends
  • Self Efficacy
  • Workforce