Ett högt och ädelt kall : kalltankens betydelse för sjuksköterskeyrkets formering 1850-1933

Sammanfattning: This thesis describes the impact of the notion of a calling on the development of the nursing profession during the period 1850–1933. The focus of the study is on how perceptions andnotions of a calling were altered over time, and in which way this historically shaped conceptinfluenced the professionalisation of the female health care work. Some contexts of relevancefor the notion of a calling and which are emphasised in the thesis are the women’s rights movement, the expansion of the civil servants’ movement, the professionalisation and modernisationof the health care system as well as the general secularisation of society. The study consists of three parts. The first part constitutes a conceptual background tothe notion of a calling and here the Christian heritage of ideas is examined. The second partof the thesis describes three leading institutions of nursing education: the Ersta Institution ofdeaconesses (1851), the Red Cross education (1867), and the Sophia Home (1884). The study shows how Lutheran features influenced these educational institutions, mainly the educationof the deaconesses. The meaning of the calling differed between the deaconesses and thenurses of the Sophia Home. The deaconnesses’ notion of a calling emphasised the value ofhumbly serving fellow beings, whereas the Sophia Home attached more importance to theelevated and noble aspect of the calling. The third part of the thesis is the most comprehensive one. It is here analysed how the circlearound the Swedish Nursing Association (SNA), used and related to the notion of a calling during the period 1910–1933. The description is structured under four themes. The first describes how the notion of a calling expresses a particular professional ideal and an ethical attitude characterised by a Lutheran work ethics with strong altruistic features. Under the second theme, the gendered perception of the vocation is discussed. It is claimed that the nursingprofession was not unambiguously permeated by feminine gendered perceptions. Instead the nurses’ professional ideal espoused a mixture of masculine and feminine gendered metaphors.Under the third theme, it becomes clear that the nurses’ proclamation of a calling strengthened and increased the status of the profession. Under the fourth theme, the nurses’notion of a calling is related to two male professional groups, doctors and clergymen, and thepessimistic and sombre spirit of time at the turn of the century, 1900. The general secularisation of society, and the gradual modernisation of the health care sector seemed to have contributedto a need for a professional corps, marked by strong tradition, apparently considereda guarantee for a health care system that would still comprise Christian love.