Utopian theory and the discourse of natural birth

Frost, J., Pope, C., Liebling, R. and Murphy, D. (2006) Utopian theory and the discourse of natural birth Social Theory & Health, 4, (4), pp. 299-318. (doi:10.1057/palgrave.sth.8700076).


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This paper examines the endurance of an idealized version of birth - the natural (intervention free) birth - and the tensions between the discourse surrounding natural birth and the experiences of women who had operative deliveries (surgically assisted hospital births). The paper uses utopian theory to explore the discourse of natural birth. It draws on empirical research with 27 women who had experienced operative delivery. Interviews with these women highlight the contested and problematic nature of the natural birth discourse. While these women desire and support the idea of natural birth their own experience is of a range of medical and surgical interventions - an experience that was, for many of these women, difficult to reconcile. Notwithstanding this experience many of the women maintain a strong commitment to the natural birth ideal, indicating its enduring power. Rather than employing a traditional utopian approach ourselves (one that dictates the form and content of a possible future), we employ a more recent approach, drawing on the work of Levitas and Sargisson, and Foucault's notion of heterotopia, which has the potential to encompass and facilitate a range of possible birth experiences.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1057/palgrave.sth.8700076
ISSNs: 1477-8211 (print)
Keywords: childbirth, maternity care, operative delivery, women's experience of birth, utopia

ePrint ID: 42996
Date :
Date Event
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2007
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 18:50
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/42996

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