Behind the screens is a book about nursing. It sheds light on the fundamental aspects of basic nursing that have previously been hidden, or taken for granted. The essence of these practices has not been regarded as formal knowledge, partly because there has been no formal language to describe them. Experienced and beginning practitioners will identify with many aspects of this discussion.

Professor Jocalyn Lawler argues that the body is a problem in our society and she examines the intellectual background to the problem. She describes the pattern of relationships between the theoretical concepts of the body, body care, privacy, dirty work, women's work, and sexuality. The invisibility of nursing is linked with these concepts and with the lack of an academic discourse on the body as a whole.

Drawing on the words of nurses themselves, Lawler describes how they deal with the problem of the body. From the interviews, she articulates the complexity and sophistication at the heart of the way nurses manage the bodies of others. And she coins a term, somology, that provides nursing with a language to describe the crucial social components of skilled nursing care.

Readable and important, Behind the screens adds to knowledge about knowledge and to knowledge about nursing. The work was first published in 1991. It has since been translated into Norwegian as Bak skjermbrettene: sykepleie, og kroppslige problemer, and French as La Face Cachée des Soins: Soins au corps, intimité et pratique soignante.

To purchase a hard copy of this book please visit the Sydney University Press web site.

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  • Front Matter 

    Lawler, Jocalyn
    Published 2006-01-01
    Open Access
    Book chapter