Oral Presentation The 26th International Nursing Philosophy Conference 2023

Critiquing the in/civility binary in nursing education research (#12)

Christopher Kahle 1 , Miriam Bender 2 , Lissi Hansen 1
  1. Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OREGON, United States
  2. University of California Irvine, Irvine, CALIFORNIA, United States

Is lateness incivility? Imagine a nursing learner late to clinical simulation, forced to wait in the hall until break. Where would incivility be situated in this example – with late learner, strict faculty, or oppressive system? Nursing education research does not account for nuance here because nursing researchers have framed misbehavior studies through a simplistic in/civility binary.

Curiously, though three concept analyses operationally defined civility as an aspirational virtue, all empirical studies instead addressed incivility. Furthermore, while researchers defined incivility functionally, no one has developed an operational definition of incivility. Multiple, mutable incivility definitions are weak counterpoints to the well-developed operational definitions of civility.

The in/civility binary is problematic because definitional asymmetry muddles civility’s virtues and incivility’s vices. I argue that this ambiguity also masks power and context in conflict situations. Through inquiry-based case studies, my presentation aims to fracture the in/civility binary to advance thinking and research.

Definitional incongruity confuses scientific inquiry. In our example, the learner works nights and arrived three minutes late to prebrief. Do positionality and context shift our perceptions of lateness-as-incivility?

Situational behaviors such as acts of oppression also may not fit into in/civility definitions, nor the binary. For example, resistance cannot be coded given the conceptual restrictions of in/civility. Our exemplar learner is Indigenous Hawaiian, and he rolled his eyes at the simulation faculty when she commented on “island time” after prebrief. Again, where is incivility situated?

Given the example, is incivility even the concept of interest? Problematics inherent in the binary do not help us answer the question. Complex, messy, even annoying behaviors may not fit neatly within the oppositional binary of in/civility given definitional murkiness. A critical operational definition of incivility may support nuanced understanding of behaviors and open new possibilities that support equity, thriving, and belonging in nursing education