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Fashioning modernity, myth and the macabre: An examination of the function of nurses’ uniforms on screen
journal contributionposted on 21.05.2019, 00:00 by Donna BrienDonna Brien, Margaret McallisterMargaret Mcallister
Long of sociological interest, uniforms are a symbol of order, standardization, professionalism and trust. As cultural objects, they are studied from a range of perspectives to consider how organizational systems such as the military, schools, airlines and health services construct and reinforce identity and image. This article adopts a popular culture-focused approach to representations of the nursing uniform on screen in a range of films and television programmes and series. In doing so, it proposes that film representations promote an understanding of the nursing uniform in a number of ways. These include understanding the uniform as a marker of professional identity; signifier of stratification and power; signifier of gender and object of (sexual) desire; marker of professional incompetence; and fetish object. This analysis reveals how the representation of nurses and nursing on screen both intersects with the reality of nursing work and identity, and affects how nursing work and identity are understood. The argument engages with a range of relevant research, and adapts research from other disciplines, in the context of analysing popular cultural texts.