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Neutralization and Deviance in the Workplace: Theft of Supplies and Medicines by Hospital Nurses (From Deviance and Deviants, P 268-274, 2000, Richard Tewksbury and Patricia Gagne -- See NCJ-184209)

NCJ Number
Dean Dabney
Date Published
7 pages
This article examines theft and drug use among hospital nurses.
During personal interviews, nurses freely admitted to stealing supplies and drugs. They did not see anything wrong with their theft, except under some limited circumstances. Nurses judged their deviance against norms they established among themselves, not according to official hospital rules, which forbid theft. Findings support the facilitating role that neutralizing definitions play in differential association and social learning theory. The sources of normative conflict between the nurses’ and the hospital administrators’ definitions of proper behavior may well be traced to the overarching way in which nurses conceive of their work objective: helping their patients at any cost. Other research has found that, although many hospital employees enjoy their jobs from a care-giving perspective, they dislike the hospitals in which they must deliver this care. Thus, the neutralizations used to justify and condone nurses’ deviance against the hospital would seem to make sense as they were done to benefit patients. References