Critical research and individualism Introduction: The field of nursing science comprises of a wide array of experiences encountered by nurses during the course of their practice. It is, hence, imperative for them to understand, analyze, and critically assess the implications of such experiences on their patients as well as on the society as a whole…
The field of nursing research helps in integrating the various aspects of patient care including biological, social, emotional, as well as scientific and philosophical that have a direct and far-reaching impact on the provision of healthcare. The recent developments in the field of nursing science play a key role in influencing and shaping the discipline of nursing through a range of philosophical approaches. This essay aims to assess the various philosophical underpinnings of this profession, the implications of nursing theories in practice, and a critical analysis of various competing theories of scientific method, particularly the critical theory and the concept of individualism. Critical social theory: The critical social theory has been recently gaining increasing significance in the field of nursing science due to its philosophical approach towards understanding of science. The concept of individual liberty is somewhat restricted in contemporary society due to a range of socio-political restrictions. Such restrictive policies which are rampant across all sections of the society tend to have various negative implications on individuals due to its dominant presence as an integral element of the societal structure resulting in oppression of individual expression. The critical analysis of a given situation helps in highlighting the issue of oppression and the socially constructed borders on human freedom. The critical social theory helps in understanding the manner in which the dominant social values affect and influence the profession of nursing and subsequently the health and welfare of the society at large (Munhall, 2011). The critical social theory is hence involved in transforming existing social orders with a view to influence and coax a positive change in the social norms and hence the power relations to enable greater freedom and promote the greater social and moral values of equality, freedom, and justice (Hitchcock, Schubert, and Thomas, 2003). The field of nursing, being a 'practice science', is essentially involved in pursuing the primary goal of nursing inquiry and knowledge development in order to enable informed decision making and application of the same in practice in ways which are both - socially relevant as well as scientifically sound (Browne, 2000). This theory plays a key role in elucidating the relationship between theory and practice. It insists that the relationship between nursing theory and practice is reflexive in nature thus implying that 'theory feeds into practice, and practice informs theory' (Daly, Speedy, and Jackson, 2009: 116). According to Mill, Allen, and Morrow (2001) critical theory has the ability to "provide the broad philosophical foundation required by the discipline of nursing" (p. 112). The potential contributions of critical social theory in the field of nursing as well as its philosophical implications are fundamental to the field of nursing and healthcare delivery in general. The application of critical social theory has been widely recommended by various nursing theorists for specific research, as a guide to nursing research and to use as a framework for developing the discipline. According to Habermas (1968 qtd. in Browne, 2000) "critically oriented science should produce emancipatory knowledge that promotes social change and a more just society" (Browne, 2000: 40). Individualism: Individualism is one of the most basic foundations on which ...
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