With Reference to at Least Three Ethnographic Studies, Demonstrate How the Encounter with Reproductive Technologies Might Produce New Dilemmas and New Uncertainties for Women and Couples. Essay

2161 WordsJan 3, 20139 Pages
The implications of reproductive technologies began to be considered in 1978 with Louise, the very first test-tube baby made in Britain. Previously, women and couples had limited choices with assisted conception, since then there has been an exponential increase in technological advancement giving infertile women a wider range of options. This essay will explore some of the new dilemmas and uncertainties that have been created by the introduction of such procedures in Britain, by considering the conclusions of ethnographic work done on the issue. Such evidence has shown how infertility can often be seen as a social taboo. A lot of pressure is put on women to produce kin, the focus on family in politics and culture makes women who are infertile feel like failures and alienated from themselves and society. Dismantling such expectations may reduce the dilemmas faced by infertile couples, something reproductive technologies might themselves be contributing to. The first ethnography I’d like to focus on is Sarah Franklin’s study of “Embodied Progress”. She conducted a study in England in the late 1980s of 22 women undergoing IVF treatment, which is one of the more popular reproductive technologies available for couples. Franklin explains the social importance of family in her introduction, and observes that this was reflected in the politics of the period, in the statement by Margaret Thatcher (the first female British Prime Minister) that “there is no such thing as society, there are only individuals and their families’’ (Franklin, 1997, p. 5). Infertile women felt ‘disenfranchised’ from society and many saw In-vitro Fertilisation (IVF) as a solution, even though the procedure was uncertain and threw up a range of new dilemmas. Franklin outlined three main issues with IVF; the gap between the representation and the reality of IVF’s probability of success, the

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