Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Prisoners of oath: Junior doctors’ professional identities during and after industrial action

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-16, 12:49 authored by Nick Jephson, Hugh Cook, Andy Charlwood

 This article examines the identity (re)work undertaken by junior doctors during the junior doctors’ contract dispute of 2015–16 in the National Health Service (NHS). A qualitative, longitudinal approach was used, consisting of 31 interviews with 18 junior doctors across two time periods. Findings show that the junior doctors’ strike represented a major threat to their professional identities, and that the strike action instigated significant identity (re)work for the doctors. Furthermore, findings reveal three overlapping ‘identity threat alleviation’ strategies that were constructed by striking doctors: reluctant acceptance of their weak bargaining power due to their professional identities; a subsequent reattachment to their normative professional values; and a focus on their future careers. This study examines the effects of a ‘white collar’ industrial dispute through the lens of professional identity, showing how medics employ identity (re)work as a resource to help them cope with perceived assaults on their professional identity. 


Published in

Department of Economic History




  • VoR (Version of Record)


Jephson, N., Cook, H., & Charlwood, A. (2023) 'Prisoners of oath: Junior doctors’ professional identities during and after industrial action', Economic and Industrial Democracy, 0143831X231175701.

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Management

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Nick Jephson

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Welsh Centre for Business and Management Research

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  • © The Authors


  • en

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