|Abstract||130 KB||Adobe Acrobat PDF||View/Open
|Thesis||1 MB||Adobe Acrobat PDF||View/Open
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/41751
- Childbirth practice and feminist theory:re-imagining birth in an Australian public hospital.
- University of Newcastle. Faculty of Education and Arts, School of Humanities and Social Science
- Research Doctorate - Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
- The thesis involves a re-examination of feminist views of the childbearing body from a post-structuralist perspective and applies these theoretical ideas to an empirical investigation into contemporary childbirth and midwifery. Critiques of medicalised childbirth developed in Australia, Britain and the USA in the 1970s are related to debates within feminism about appropriate ways to theorise motherhood and the female body as well as to understand the role played by midwives and doctors in childbirth. It is argued these critiques were the product of three strands of feminism that differed in their analysis of gender politics, their philosophy of knowledge and their understanding of power. The three critiques are also related to differences between the USA, Britain and Australia in respect of their medical system, ways in which the history of childbirth practices are viewed and differences between the professional roles of midwives. It is argued that these critiques need to be modified by more recent post-structuralist feminist approaches, particularly the way in which bodies are shaped by language and power is related to the distribution of knowledge The empirical study concentrates on a maternity unit in a regional town in New South Wales. The unit was studied through repeat interviews with mothers attending the hospital for the birth of their second or a later child, interviews with the midwives and doctors working in the unit and observations over several months. Childbirth is re-imagined as a drama and found to be an intense embodied experience shaped in turn by the practices of the hospital and the changing boundaries between medicine and midwifery, relationships of the women with the staff and the women’s own diversity. This approach to the analysis of the interview data demonstrates the limitations of the liberal feminist critique that there is insufficient rational and ‘scientific’ evaluation of childbirth practices, the radical feminist critique that the key issue is men’s domination of women’s bodies and the materialist feminist critique of the lack of fairness and support given to childbearing women, while showing how these discourses continue to circulate in debates over the management of childbirth.
- University of Newcastle Research Higher Degree Thesis
- Resource Type
- Copyright 2003 Ann Taylor
- Full Text