The Doctor's Tale: Enacted Workspace and the General Practitioner


  • Frances Rapport Swansea University
  • Marcus A. Doel Swansea University
  • Paul Wainwright Kingston University and St George's University of London



workspace, general practitioner, mixed-methods, photo-biographic-elicitation interviews


The environments and landscapes in which we live and work say much about who we are and how we act, yet there is little in the literature that considers Primary Care professionals' reflections on workspace and its impact on practice. The paper addresses this lacuna by presenting the findings of Phase II of a novel, two-year, mixed-methods study of UK General Practitioner (GP) workspace. Phase II employed photo-biographic-elicitation interviews supported by photo-biographic data from Phase I, to examine 8 GPs' understandings of their workspace in relation to professional practice and self-identity. Through distillation and summation of datasets, the paper establishes the pivotal role of workspace in Primary Care. Unlike many qualitative studies, the paper emphasizes ambiguity and difference rather than certainty and similarity as characteristics that prove to be of major significance in understanding the particularity of GP workspace. Like CHAUCER's Canterbury Tales, GPs' individual stories are set as a sequence of tales within what might be called a frame narrative—the overarching narrative of British general practice providing the frame for the particular stories of the practitioners. Although working environments may be similarly structured, how GPs perceive, perform within, and move through their own setting is unique to each. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs080227


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Author Biographies

Frances Rapport, Swansea University

Frances RAPPORT (PhD) is a social scientist with a background in the Arts. She is Professor of Qualitative Health Research at the School of Medicine, Swansea University, and head of the Qualitative Research Unit. Frances RAPPORT co-leads an all-Wales group of qualitative researchers and methodologists: "Qualitative Inquiry Cyrmu," holds the position of Honorary Senior Research Fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Her research interests include: advances in the field of qualitative methodology in healthcare, professional workspace and health practices, and assisted reproductive technology medicine.

Marcus A. Doel, Swansea University

Marcus A. DOEL (PhD) is a human geographer and a social scientist. He is Research Professor of Human Geography, Head of the School of the Environment and Society, and Associate Director of the Centre for Urban Theory at Swansea University, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers). His research interests include poststructuralist spatial theory, the geography of complementary and alternative medicine, and the intersection of visual culture and consumer culture.

Paul Wainwright, Kingston University and St George's University of London

Paul WAINWRIGHT (PhD) qualified as a nurse in Southampton and had a range of jobs in the NHS before moving into Higher Education. He worked in the Centre for Philosophy and Health Care in Swansea University until 2005, which is where he developed his interest in the Medical Humanities. He is now Professor of Nursing in the Joint Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences at Kingston University and St George's University of London. His research interests centre on the nature of practices in health care, from a philosophical and an empirical perspective.




How to Cite

Rapport, F., Doel, M. A., & Wainwright, P. (2008). The Doctor’s Tale: Enacted Workspace and the General Practitioner. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(2).