Exploring affiliations in an escalation of conflict: Three critical points in time in the Jayant Patel, Bundaberg Hospital case

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Habiba, Princess
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2014
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Abstract

In 2005, in the Queensland State Parliament, Australia, claims were made that led to a public inquiry into Queensland Health and the practices of an overseas trained doctor, Dr Jayant Patel, who was accused of contributing to the deaths of a number of patients at Queensland's Bundaberg Hospital. This inquiry ultimately led to Patel's arrest and incarceration. His convictions however, were quashed on appeal and a new case was launched against him. This paper explores how the conflict escalated and examines, in particular, the use of affiliations as a resource between players. Public documents were used to track the events in the case, with two methods utilised to examine how the key players defended their claims. To begin, the affiliations are examined as part of the affair process using Boltanski's affair model as a theoretical framework. Then, to enhance this explanation, some affiliations are examined in the context of the field in which the conflicts erupted, using Bourdieu's field model theories. Whilst Boltanski and Bourdieu are considered opposing theorists sociologically, a trading zone between their works can be found, allowing for expansion of the ideas. The findings reveal that, affiliations are important to the defence of claims, but other factors including the timing of such affiliations and the capital affiliates possess, also play a crucial role. This reminds us of the age old adage 'It's not what you know but who you know'... Through the trading zone approach to methodology, this study contributes to a better understanding of organisational conflicts.

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Journal of Business and Behavioral Sciences

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26

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2

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Sociological Methodology and Research Methods

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