Conversational Analysis of Dominance, Power, and Control of Supervisory Personnel toward Junior Staff in a Seniors’ Care Residence

By Lucia Taylor and Anne Theresa Sureshkumar.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 27, 2016 $US5.00

As institutionalized settings can be fertile spaces for abuse of power and control, the authors apply critical discourse analysis to an impromptu communicative event initiated by a female senior carer to her female subordinates (who hold relatively low power and low status within the overall institutional environment of a seniors’ care home) with the aim to explore dynamics and (re)production of power, control, and authority in an all-women interaction. Applying the identity theories of Swann and Stets and Burke to this conversational event within the micro-social environment of a care home provides insight into female discursive strategies and the extent to which female care personnel—traditionally associated with female normative qualities of care and nurture—can marginalize male seniors in care residences (when male seniors challenge sociocultural codes and norms associated with the intersectionality of gender and age), as well as maintain social power and dominance over senior residents, reinforce traditional normative behaviours linked to gender and age, and lastly (re)affirm and maintain (female) moral superiority and hegemony of the institutional socio-physical space in the promotion of feminine prescriptive sociocultural codes. The authors’ analysis support Guendouzi’s findings on women’s casual discursive interactions with each other that assert the presence of underlying supportive as well as competitive messages. As affirmed by Guendouzi, women’s conversational strategies can mirror patriarchal behaviours and communication styles associated with devaluing and sidelining individuals or groups who do not reflect normative qualities and styles. The authors affirm the need to address unofficial exercise of power and control by individual staff members on the micro-social level of senior care homes as well to undertake measures to educate personnel in senior care residences on the themes and issues associated with sexuality and aging. Considerably more efforts should be made by institutions that deliver health and social care services to the senior community to eliminate prejudice, which can be manipulated and seized upon as an “opportunity” by individuals in position of authority to maintain and reproduce power and control over subordinate staff as well to stigmatize senior residents and limit seniors’ agency (including sexual expression).

Keywords: Senior Residence Care Homes, Personnel, Dominance, Power, Abuse, Control

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 6, Issue 2, June 2016, pp.51-61. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 27, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 615.887KB)).

Dr. Lucia Taylor

Research Team Member, Research Team - Work, Culture, Society, Université Sorbonne – Paris IV, Paris, France

Anne Theresa Sureshkumar

PhD candidate, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada