‘Navigating the self in maternity care: how Chinese midwives negotiate their individual professional identity in hospital settings? A Grounded Theory Analysis of Chinese Midwives' Professional Identity

Jing Zhang, Elaine Haycock-Stuart, Rosemary Mander, Lorna Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The study aims to understand how hospital-based Chinese midwives' professional identity is constructed when faced with competing discourses (medical and midwifery) in the professional transition. Constructivist Grounded Theory was chosen to guide the research. In-depth individual interviews were used to digitally record accounts from 15 midwives and 5 women clients. The central problem "identity conflict" emerged as the encounter of two contextual categories: "institutional categorization" and "professional identification". Midwives tried to reconcile the conflicts through a process of "navigating the self in midwifery care", comprised of two parallel phases: one is "negotiating the self of being risk-focused or normality-oriented"; the other is "negotiating the self of being task-focused or woman-centred". Within each phase, midwives employed
varying strategies to position the self on an identity continuum from one end of the "obstetric nurse" to the "professional midwife" on the other, resulting in a hybrid identity. This process is influenced by three factors: the perceived competence, the
working context and the relation with women. The findings presented in this paper are based on interviews with midwife participants, illustrating the first phase of the navigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-394
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Volume31
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

Keywords

  • China
  • Hospital-based midwives
  • Identity crisis
  • Identity work
  • Medical dominance
  • Midwifery discourse

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