"You don't like to tell them their job but it's your foot at the end of the day": theorising and negotiating 'resistance' in clinical encounters

Emily Nicholls, Victoria Robinson, Lisa Farndon, Wesley Vernon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article draws on the findings of a small-scale, qualitative study exploring patients’ reactions to specialist advice regarding healthy footwear to develop and explore the ways in which the concept of ‘resistance’ can be understood in clinical encounters. Whilst wearing ‘inappropriate’ shoes can cause discomfort and exacerbate existing conditions, foot health professionals may continue to experience resistance to efforts to encourage patients to make footwear changes. Theoretically, resistance to professional advice has been seen not merely as a barrier, but a ‘tool’ to spark further, more personalised consultation to encourage real, long-term changes. Whilst such developments are welcome, we contend that some patients may be more able than others to openly resist, and resistance may not always be overt and obvious, but rather may take the form of an ‘illusion of compliance’. Additionally, some patients may consciously resist advice as a means to retain a sense of control over their treatment and bodies. Our insights extend and develop the concept of resistance in a theoretical and practical sense and have applicability in wider neoliberal healthcare contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246–262
JournalSocial Theory and Health
Early online date17 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021

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