Problematising public and private work spaces: Midwives' work in hospitals and in homes
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OBJECTIVES: as the boundaries between public and private spaces become increasingly fluid, interest is growing in exploring how those spaces are used as work environments, how professionals both construct and convey themselves in those spaces, and how the lines dividing spaces traditionally along public and private lines are blurred. This paper draws on literature from critical geography, organisational studies, and feminist sociology to interpret the work experiences of midwives in Ontario, Canada who provide maternity care both in hospitals and in clients' homes. DESIGN: qualitative design involving in-depth semi-structured interviews content coded thematically. SETTING: Ontario, Canada. PARTICIPANTS: community midwives who practice at home and in hospital. FINDINGS: the accounts of practicing midwives illustrate the ways in which hospital and home work spaces are sites of both compromise and resistance. With the intention of making birthing women feel more `at home', midwives describe how they attempt to recreate the woman's home in the hospital. Similarly, midwives also reorient women's homes to a certain degree into a more standardised work space for home birth attendance. Many midwives also described how they like `guests' in both settings. KEY CONCLUSIONS: there seems to be a conscious or unconscious convergence of midwifery work spaces to accommodate Ontario midwives' unique model of practice. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: we link these findings of midwives' place of work on their experiences as workers to professional work experiences in both public and private spaces and offer suggestions for further exploration of the concept of professionals as guests in their places of work.
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