Of Orderlies and Men is an account of a working hospital in Scotland as seen from the perspective of the hospital orderly or 'porter' who finds himself at the base of the specialized and hierarchical division of labour. Where the hospital organization esteems medical skill and managerial efficiency, the male, ancillary staff is involved with tasks calling for physical stamina more than an acquired skill.
In Constance Hospital, a portering community or sub-culture manages to make its own particular knowledge and skill - physical stamina and expertise in traversing the plant - central to the institution's workings and identity. In this way, the porters achieve their own measure of wellness at the worksite.
Working as a porter himself, the author offers the reader an insight into the texture of everyday hospital life and interaction. Themes include notions of work and leisure, well-being, poverty, power and resistance, subversion, compassion, technology, age, gender, national identity and globalism.
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