Snap-shots of live theatre: the use of photography to research governance in operating room nursing

Nurs Inq. 2003 Jun;10(2):81-90. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1800.2003.00166.x.


The use of photography is an underreported method of research in the nursing literature. This paper explores its use in an ethnographic research project, the fieldwork of which was undertaken by the first author. The aim was to examine the governance of operating room nursing in the clinical setting and the theoretical orientation was the work of Michel Foucault. The focus of this paper is on how photography was used as a means of data generation. To establish some context we begin by drawing on writers from sociology and anthropology to provide an overview of the status of vision and visual research methods in contemporary social research. We then move to a brief discussion of the uses of photography in social research and the limitations imposed by ethical considerations of its use in clinical nursing settings. As well, the process and approach involved in this research project, and issues of analysis are discussed. Three 'snap-shots' of operating room nursing, taken by participants, are presented. Each is analysed in terms of its contributions to the research process as well as its substantive contribution to the theoretical framework and the research aims.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Communication
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Decision Making, Organizational*
  • Ethics, Nursing
  • Ethics, Research
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Interviews as Topic / methods
  • Male
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nursing Methodology Research / methods*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Nursing Theory
  • Operating Room Nursing / organization & administration*
  • Photography / methods*
  • Power, Psychological
  • Research Design
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Writing