Relational reproduction: exploring women's reproductive decision making in the context of individualization, neoliberalism, and postfeminism

Saunders, Kristina (2019) Relational reproduction: exploring women's reproductive decision making in the context of individualization, neoliberalism, and postfeminism. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3350191

Abstract

This thesis is a qualitative exploration of women’s reproductive decision making in the context of individualization, neoliberalism, and postfeminism. These concepts, which denote the social, political, and gendered contexts in which women live their lives, emphasize the notion of free choice and a subjectivity characterised by individual autonomy. Whilst choice has been widely discussed with reference to women’s lives, I considered there to be a theoretical and empirical gap to fill by using the above concepts as a lens through which to view reproductive decision making, and to uncover the valued femininity available to women. I also argue, however, that a fuller picture of how choice and subjectivity are enacted can be found when considering theories of relationality and embodiment which help to connect the isolated, ‘flattened out’ view of the self to society.
Using data from twenty-two semi-structured interviews with women and service providers (facilitated by the use of concept cards), I trace the contradictory and discursive elements of reproductive choice. I explore this with regards to women’s status and relationship to contemporary society, and how they are positioned by their classed, ‘leaky’, reproductive bodies. I also discuss how seemingly intimate reproductive decisions are inseparable from public and political life, structures, and other people which gives a deeper understanding of choice than what is contained within individualization, neoliberalism, and postfeminism. The depoliticizing effects of choice are also explored, as in spite of reproductive decisions being presented as relational and embodied, participants at times understood decisions as a matter of individual choice, therefore withholding critique of inequalities. Overall, this thesis provides an insight into how the self and reproductive decisions emerge in a relational process that is inseparable from the social and political world, therefore helping to move away from individualized framings, and the undermining of collectivity that neoliberalism enforces.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Reproduction, gender, class, having it all, choice, individualization, neoliberalism, postfeminism, relationality.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Dawson, Dr. Matt
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Kristina Saunders
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-72988
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 31 May 2019 14:50
Last Modified: 13 Aug 2019 15:01
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/72988

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