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Surveillance of risks in everyday life: The agency of pregnant women and its limitations

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Published in Social Theory & Health. 2011, vol. 9, no. 4, p. 419-436
Abstract Risk management in pregnant women’s everyday lives represents a central feature of the experience of pregnancy. We aim to analyse how the agency of pregnant women and the decisions they make are affected by social influences that reinforce medical norms and moral expectations towards motherhood. With data from a qualitative study conducted in Switzerland, we describe diverging positions on professional norms, distinguishing women who strive to eliminate uncertainty and ensure strict control of the biological development of their pregnancy from women who resist medical norms that they do not consider to be relevant to dealing with risk. Concrete resistance through personal bargaining with the normative framework was reported and justified through a range of arguments, allowing individual representations to match dominant expectations. Concurrently, we highlight the fact that social reinforcement of medical norms and moral expectations regarding proper motherhood limit possible deviations. This study contributes to the analysis of lay strategies towards health risks, emphasizing the articulation of agency and social influences that characterize the extension of risk surveillance in society.
Keywords Risks in daily lifePregnancyHealthismAgency
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Project FNS: L’information et la gestion des risques dans le suivi de la grossesse : le contexte juridique et sociologique de la relation médecin-patiente
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BURTON-JEANGROS, Claudine. Surveillance of risks in everyday life: The agency of pregnant women and its limitations. In: Social Theory & Health, 2011, vol. 9, n° 4, p. 419-436. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:32829

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Deposited on : 2014-01-07

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