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September 2021

Reproductive genetics, gender and the body: 'Please doctor, may I have a normal baby?'

Journal/Book: Sociology. 2000; 34: Unit 3G Mountjoy Research Ctr Stockton Rd, Durham, Durham, England DH1 3Ur. British Sociological Assoc. 403-420.

Abstract: This paper's purpose is to highlight key sociological issues, that come to light when 'the body' becomes a theoretical site in reproductive genetics. By positioning the body as a central feature in this analysis, the paper: (1) describes how a mechanistic view of the body continues to be privileged in this discourse and the effects of this view; (2) examines how reproductive limits are practised on the gendered body through a feminised regime of reproductive asceticism and the discourse on shame; and (3) explores the social effects and limitations of reproductive genetics in relation to disability as a cultural representation of impaired bodies. The central assumptions concerning reproductive genetics are that it appears within surveillance medicine as part of a disciplinary process in society's creation of a genetic moral order, that it is mobilised by experts for the management of reproductive bodies and that it constructs a limited view of the body. Thus, the way reproductive genetics operates tends to hide the fact that what may appear as 'defective genes' is a result of a body's interaction not only with the environment but also gendered social practices valorised by difference as well as rigid definitions of health and illness. The research is from a 1995-96 European study of experts interviewed in four countries.

Note: Article Ettorre E, Univ Plymouth, Dept Sociol, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, Devon, ENGLAND

Keyword(s): the body; disabilism; gender; reproductive genetics; PRENATAL-DIAGNOSIS; SOCIOLOGY; WOMEN

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