Confining risk: Choice and responsibility in childbirth in a risk society

Possamai-Inesedy, Alphia
October 2006
Health Sociology Review;Oct2006, Vol. 15 Issue 4, p406
Academic Journal
The language of risk in relation to pregnancy practices is available to and invoked by not only women who are contemplating pregnancy, the currently pregnant, and mothers, but also the never to be pregnant. Beyond the dozens of leaflets and posters which warn about all kinds of hazards that women face during their pregnancy and impending birth, there is a multitude of messages within the media where women are told about the inherent faultiness of their bodies. These women are told about invisible killers lurking in their ignorance. Yet, blame is allocated to those who fail to inform themselves about the risks that they face. Risk, according to the works of Beck and Giddens, has become a force of social change. It can be seen to actively shape our concept of health, desire for perfection, and our relationship to technology and responsibility. It is these themes which are noticeably absent from previous research in the area of sociology of childbirth and can capture more adequately the ideological shift which this article examines. It is argued, through the scrutinizing gaze of the public, that the pregnant woman is the least able to escape the consequences of risk society where changed notions of health and responsibility have created a cultural acceptance of medical intervention of childbirth.


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