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Book cover: Advances in Medical Sociology

Advances in Medical Sociology

ISSN: 1057-6290
Series editor(s): Brea L. Perry

Subject Area: Sociology and Public Policy

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Ethical Mindfulness: Narrative Analysis and Everyday Ethics in Health Care

Document Information:
Title:Ethical Mindfulness: Narrative Analysis and Everyday Ethics in Health Care
Author(s):Marilys Guillemin, Lynn Gillam
Volume:9 Editor(s): Barbara Katz Rothman, Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong, Rebecca Tiger ISBN: 978-0-7623-1438-6 eISBN: 978-1-84950-501-7
Citation:Marilys Guillemin, Lynn Gillam (2007), Ethical Mindfulness: Narrative Analysis and Everyday Ethics in Health Care, in Barbara Katz Rothman, Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong, Rebecca Tiger (ed.) Bioethical Issues, Sociological Perspectives (Advances in Medical Sociology, Volume 9), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.157-178
DOI:10.1016/S1057-6290(07)09006-7 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article type:Chapter Item

Our approach to narrative ethics is based on personal real-life stories, rather than fictional or hypothetical case studies. In particular, we are interested in the narratives of health-care practitioners and patients, which attempt to make sense of the everyday ethical concerns that infuse so much of health-care practice. These stories are notably rich, contextual, reflective and written from a personal perspective. They stand in sharp contrast to the case studies and ‘thin’ hypothetical-type narratives much favoured in bioethics. Commonly in bioethics, the purpose of the case study or hypothetical narratives is to provide an illustration, or a platform on which the relative merits of predetermined philosophical positions are argued. In contrast, the personal life narratives of health-care practitioners and patients that we refer to do not set out to serve as a base for a particular ethical standpoint, or a test case for conflicting theoretical positions. However, we argue that ethical work invariably occurs through telling and engaging with these personal life narratives; through this engagement we come to understand who we are and how to live our lives. The emphasis here is not on solving an ethical dilemma, or on undertaking ethical decision making per se, but rather on enacting our lives through the telling of and engaging with stories (Frank, 1997). We emphasise our lives as being embedded in stories, within which ethical engagement occurs.

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