IFGH 2012: Constructing and Narrating Career, Career Stories of UK-based African Nurses

January 30, 2012


Authors:Fitzgerald J.

Author Affiliations:London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Option 1– Scientific / Empirical Research Findings Presented as – Oral Presentation


This study was an analysis of individual global careers. It explored the careers of UK-based African nurses including the pre and post migration context of career and career narratives


This qualitative study analysed data from two interviews given by 17 UK-based migrant African nurses.

Drawing on Bordieu’s notion of research being composed of “two minutes”, a life history approach first identified the social space and structures creating the ‘field’ of the observed/ objective career.
A second analysis of ‘habitus’ involving a narrative study incorporated participants’ subjective experience and evaluation.


Analysis of life histories identified:

Pre and post migration context
Participants’ career stage
Resources, enablers and barriers at each stage of career

Organisations’ human resource architecture and the employment relationship were also determined indicating the types of careers experienced.

Four narratives provide an overarching story about nursing and being a migrant nurse in the context of a global labour market. Participants drew on canonical narratives to reveal what nursing means in relation to the wider concept of career and its role in migration. This included choosing the UK as the destination for migration and its subsequent contribution to career.

Discussion/conclusions/ implications:

The analysis identifies cohort differences in career prior to migration, specifically careers are increasingly self- managed entities that involved working in multi-agency services, involving private and third sector international organisations.

The narratives identified the cultural capital individuals drew upon to articulate their past, present and future careers incorporating migration decisions, recent experiences and future plans
Complimenting macro-analytic approaches this study offers new insights by utilising a micro-analytic approach demonstrating individual migration decisions occur not in the context of a wider enabling context but also within a range of socio-historic influences and personal factors. The narration of career integrates a range of motivations that sustain identity and self esteem



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