Macvarish, J. and Lee, E. (2019). Constructions of Parents in Adverse Childhood Experiences Discourse. Social Policy and Society [Online] 18:467-477. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1474746419000083.
In December 2017, the House of Commons Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee put out a call for submissions to an Inquiry which would consider the evidence-base for early intervention policies, with a particular focus on ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’ or ACEs. This paper analyses those submissions and the transcripts of the Inquiry’s oral sessions in the belief that they constitute a useful window through which to explore the types of claims being made in ACEs discourse. Our aim is to assess whether the ACEs phenomenon represents a continuity with what has been termed the ‘first three years movement’ (Thornton, 2011a and b): social policy and philanthropic activism which focuses on the earliest years of life in the name of preventing social problems ‘down the line’. In particular, we consider constructions of parents as determinate of these social problems through their influence on their children and the ways in which these are gendered in new ways.
Lee, E., Sheldon, S. and Macvarish, J. (2018). The 1967 Abortion Act fifty years on: Abortion, medical authority and the law revisited. Social Science and Medicine [Online] 212:26-32. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.07.010.
The recent 50th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act provides the opportunity to
revisit what has been termed the ‘remarkable authority’ this Act ascribes to doctors.
This paper does so using as its starting point a seminal commentary on this question
by the renowned medical sociologist Sally Macintyre, published in this journal in
1973 as ‘The Medical Profession and the 1967 Abortion Act in Britain’. We revisit
themes from that paper through an analysis of the findings of interviews with 14
doctors who, throughout lengthy careers, have provided abortions and led the
development of the abortion service in England and Wales. We contrast our findings
with Macintyre’s, and argue that our interviews highlight the shifting meaning of
medical authority and medical professionalism. We show that those doctors most
involved in providing abortions place moral value on this work; uphold the authority
of women (not doctors) in abortion decision-making; view nurses and midwives as
professional collaborators; and consider their professional and clinical judgement
impeded by the present law. We conclude that medical sociologists have much to gain
by taking abortion provision as a focus for the further exploration of the shifting meaning of medical authority.
Lee, E., Macvarish, J. and Sheldon, S. (2017). ‘After the ‘need for….a father’: ‘The welfare of the child’ and ‘supportive parenting’ in UK assisted conception clinics’. Families, Relationships and Societies [Online] 6:71-87. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/204674315X14303090462204.
The law governing assisted conception in the United Kingdom (UK) (the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990) mandates through section 13(5) that clinicians make ‘child welfare’ assessments before proceeding with treatment. In the 1990 Act, section 13(5) stated that assessment should take into account ‘the need … for a father’, but in section 13(5) of a revised Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act in 2008 the words ‘a father’ were replaced with ‘supportive parenting’ in order to signal official recognition of same-sex parents. This article challenges the idea that this might be seen as an unequivocally progressive development through reference to a growing body of scholarship that critically evaluates the attention that policy makers have come to pay to ‘parenting’. It discusses the sociopolitical context that gave rise to section 13(5) and the pressures that led to its reform. Findings from an interview study with members of staff who work in assisted conception clinics in the UK are then discussed, focusing on staff’s perceptions of the new policy, the meanings they ascribe to the term ‘supportive parenting’ and their opinions about the responsibility they are given under law for child welfare. The article concludes that professionals’ understandings of their role resonate strongly with the wider realities of the oversight of parent–child relations considered characteristic of policies on parenting.
Lee, E. (2017). Constructing abortion as a social problem: “Sex selection” and the British abortion debate. Feminism and Psychology [Online] 27:15-33. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0959353516678010.
Between February 2012 and March 2015, the claim that sex selection abortion was taking place in Britain and that action needed to be taken to stop it dominated debate in Britain about abortion. Situating an analysis in sociological and social psychological approaches to the construction of social problems, particularly those considering “feminised” re-framings of anti-abortion arguments, this paper presents an account of this debate. Based on analysis of media coverage, Parliamentary debate and official documents, we focus on claims about grounds (evidence) made to sustain the case that sex selection abortion is a British social problem and highlight how abortion was problematised in new ways. Perhaps most notable, we argue, was the level of largely unchallenged vilification of abortion doctors and providers, on the grounds that they are both law violators and participants in acts of discrimination and violence against women, especially those of Asian heritage. We draw attention to the role of claims made by feminists in the media and in Parliament about “gendercide” as part of this process and argue that those supportive of access to abortion need to critically assess both this aspect of the events and also consider arguments about the problems of “medical power” in the light of what took place.
Lee, E., Sutton, R. and Hartley, B. (2016). From scientific paper to press release to media coverage: Advocating alcohol abstinence and democratising risk in a story about alcohol and pregnancy. Health, Risk & Society [Online] 18:247-269. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13698575.2016.1229758.
In this article, we follow the approach taken by Riesch and Spiegalhalter in “Careless pork costs lives’: Risk stories from science to press release to media’ published in this journal, and offer an assessment of one example of a ‘risk story’. Using content and thematic qualitative analysis, we consider how the findings of an article ‘Fetal Alcohol Exposure and IQ at Age 8: Evidence from a Population-Based Birth-Cohort Study’ were framed in the article itself, the associated press release, and the subsequent extensive media coverage. We contextualise this consideration of a risk story by discussing a body of work that critically engages with the development and global proliferation of efforts to advocate for alcohol abstinence to pregnant (and pre-pregnant) women. This work considers the ‘democratisation’ of risk, a term used to draw attention to the expansion of the definition of the problem of drinking in pregnancy to include any drinking and all women. We show here how this risk story contributed a new dimension to the democratisation of risk through claims that were made about uncertainty and certainty. A central argument we make concerns the contribution of the researchers themselves (not just lobby groups or journalists) to this outcome. We conclude that the democratisation of risk was advanced in this case not simply through journalists exaggerating and misrepresenting research findings, but that communication to the press and the initial interpretation of findings played their part. We suggest that this risk story raises concerns about the accuracy of reporting of research findings, and about the communication of unwarrantedly worrying messages to pregnant women about drinking alcohol.
Sheldon, S., Lee, E. and Macvarish, J. (2015). ’Supportive Parenting’, Responsibility and Regulation: The Welfare Assessment under the Reformed Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (1990). The Modern Law Review [Online] 78:461-492. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-2230.12124.
Section 13(5) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 requires fertility clinics, before offering regulated treatment services, to take account of the welfare of any child who may be born as a result of the treatment and any other child affected by that birth. This paper presents the findings of an empirical study examining the impact on practice of the controversial reform of this section in 2008. While the broad values underpinning section 13(5) appear well embedded in clinic staff's engagement with ethical issues, there is little evidence that practice has been influenced by the 2008 amendments. A complex picture emerged regarding the implementation of section 13(5), particularly in its interaction with other factors, such as funding criteria and professional norms around counselling, implying a higher level of ongoing attention to likely parenting ability – particularly that of single women – than might be expected from a reading of the statute and guidance alone.
Macvarish, J., Lee, E. and Lowe, P. (2015). Neuroscience and family policy: What becomes of the parent?. Critical Social Policy [Online] 35:248-269. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0261018315574019.
This article discusses the findings of a study tracing the incorporation of claims about infant brain development into English family policy as part of the longer term development of a ‘parent training’, early intervention agenda. The main focus is on the ways in which the deployment of neuroscientific discourse in family policy creates the basis for a new governmental oversight of parents. We argue that advocacy of ‘early intervention’, in particular that which deploys the authority of ‘the neuroscience’, places parents at the centre of the policy stage but simultaneously
demotes and marginalises them. So we ask, what becomes of the parent when politically and culturally, the child is spoken of as infinitely and permanently neurologically vulnerable to parental influence? In particular, the policy focus on parental emotions and their impact on infant brain development indicates that this represents a biologisation of ‘therapeutic’ governance.
Lowe, P., Lee, E. and Macvarish, J. (2015). Growing better brains? Pregnancy and neuroscience discourses in English social and welfare policies. Health, Risk & Society [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13698575.2014.994479.
In recent years, English welfare and health policy has started to include pregnancy
within the foundation stage of child development. The foetus is also increasingly
designated as ‘at risk’ from pregnant women. In this article, we draw on an analysis
of a purposive sample of English social and welfare policies and closely related
advocacy documents to trace the emergence of neuroscientific claims-making in
relation to the family. In this article, we show that a specific deterministic understanding
of the developing brain that only has a loose relationship with current
scientific evidence is an important component in these changes. We examine the
ways in which pregnancy is situated in these debates. In these debates, maternal stress
is identified as a risk to the foetus; however, the selective concern with women living
in disadvantage undermines biological claims. The policy claim of neurological ‘critical
windows’ also seems to be influenced by social concerns. Hence, these emerging
concerns over the foetus’ developing brain seem to be situated within the gendered
history of policing women’s pregnant bodies rather than acting on new insights from
scientific discoveries. By situating these developments within the broader framework
of risk consciousness, we can link these changes to wider understandings of the ‘at
risk’ child and intensified surveillance over family life.
Lowe, P., Lee, E. and Macvarish, J. (2015). Biologising parenting: neuroscience discourse, English social and public health policy and understandings of the child. Sociology of Health & Illness [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1111/1467-9566.12223.
In recent years, claims about children's developing brains have become central to the formation of child health and welfare policies in England. While these policies assert that they are based on neuro-scientific discoveries, their relationship to neuroscience itself has been debated. However, what is clear is that they portray a particular understanding of children and childhood, one that is marked by a lack of acknowledgment of child personhood. Using an analysis of key government-commissioned reports and additional advocacy documents, this article illustrates the ways that the mind of the child is reduced to the brain, and this brain comes to represent the child. It is argued that a highly reductionist and limiting construction of the child is produced, alongside the idea that parenting is the main factor in child development. It is concluded that this focus on children's brains, with its accompanying deterministic perspective on parenting, overlooks children's embodied lives and this has implications for the design of children's health and welfare services.
Macvarish, J., Lee, E. and Lowe, P. (2014). The ‘First Three Years’ Movement and the Infant Brain: A Review of Critiques. Sociology Compass [Online] 8:792-804. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/soc4.12183.
This article reviews a particular aspect of the critique of the increasing focus on the brain and neuroscience; what has been termed by some, ‘neuromania’. It engages with the growing literature produced in response to the ‘first three years’ movement: an alliance of child welfare advocates and politicians that draws on the authority of neuroscience to argue that social problems such as inequality, poverty, educational underachievement, violence and mental illness are best addressed through ‘early intervention’ programmes to protect or enhance emotional and cognitive aspects of children's brain development. The movement began in the United States in the early 1990s and has become increasingly vocal and influential since then, achieving international legitimacy in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the UK and elsewhere. The movement, and the brain-based culture of expert-led parent training that has grown with it, has been criticised for claiming scientific authority whilst taking a cavalier approach to scientific method and evidence; for being overly deterministic about the early years of life; for focusing attention on individual parental failings rather than societal or structural problems, for adding to the expanding anxieties of parents and strengthening the intensification of parenting and, ultimately, for redefining the parent–child relationship in biologised, instrumental and dehumanised terms.
Lee, E., Macvarish, J. and Sheldon, S. (2014). Assessing Child Welfare under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008: A Case Study in Medicalization?. Sociology of Health & Illness [Online] 36:500-515. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.12078.
This article reports findings from a study of interviews with 66 members of staff working in assisted conception clinics in the UK about their experience of making ‘welfare of the child’ (WOC) assessments pre-conception. This aspect of the provision of infertility treatment services is obligatory under section 13(5) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. This provision was amended in 2008 and the primary aim of the study was to find out how this change had impacted on practice. In describing what we found, we also make a contribution to scholarship about the medicalization of reproduction. Section 13(5) has often been discussed as a prime example of medicalization, as it gives clinics power to grant or deny access to infertility treatment on wide ranging ‘child welfare’ grounds, encompassing far more than purely clinical considerations. Yet while such medicalization may be entrenched in the law, our findings suggest this power is used in a very ‘light touch’ way, with clinics explicitly directed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority that they should operate with a presumption to treat. Further, while our interviewees offered near-universal support for the need to consider child welfare before offering treatment, this is now justified by concerns which focus not on family form (e.g. the need for a father figure) but more on the quality of interactions and relationships between parents and children. In this light, and by virtue of the fact that a wide variety of clinic staff share the gatekeeping role with doctors, we suggest that the concept of medicalization may offer a rather blunt tool for understanding a far more complex reality.
Lee, E., Macvarish, J. and Sheldon, S. (2013). The role of counsellors in infertility clinics. BioNews [Online]. Available at: http://www.bionews.org.uk/page_249841.asp?hlight=The+role+of+counsellors+in+infertility+clinics.
Counselling has become an increasingly central – and sometimes mandatory – part of the provision of infertility treatment services in the UK, although its role is not always clearly defined. In a recent research project, we interviewed 66 staff, with different roles at 20 clinics that provide infertility treatment services (around one quarter of the total). Our research offered some interesting insights into the role of counsellors in this process.
Lee, E. (2013). Whither Abortion Policy in Britain?. Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Healthcare [Online] 39:5-8. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jfprhc-2012-100373.
This commentary discusses the current
situation regarding Government policy
on abortion in Britain. It begins by
setting out the ways in which the policy
of the Coalition Government appears to
differ from that of the New Labour
administration. The article notes that
2012 brought furious debate about abortion
services, focusing on counselling,
‘sex-selection’ abortion, signing of HSA1
forms and, most recently, the upper time
limit, and discusses what has emerged to
date from these furores. Finally, thoughts
are offered on how to respond to the
problems raised by the current approach
Lee, E. (2011). Breast-feeding advocacy, risk society and health moralism: a decade’s scholarship. Sociology Compass [Online] 5:1058-1069. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2011.00424.x.
This article reviews research published this century that engages critically with the mantra ‘Breast is Best’ and the associated expansion of official breast-feeding promotion programmes. In recent years there has been a marked increase in the number of such studies published. They mostly explore experience in English speaking, industrialised countries (the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Great Britain) which are in some social and cultural respects dissimilar, yet where very similar developments and problems are detected in regards to breast-feeding promotion. We highlight how this exploration of breast-feeding promotion internationally has developed understanding of wider sociological themes. This scholarship, we suggest, has provided a powerful illustration of the relation between risk society (more particularly a heightened consciousness of risk) and the evolution of a code of conduct that regulates behaviour, that has been termed ‘health moralizm’. The article covers three themes: ‘Science, risk society, authority and choice’; ‘Public health policy and infant feeding’; and ‘Moralization and women’s identity work’. We conclude that the research discussed shows how the sociological imagination continues to shed light on the relation between private troubles and public issues. We also suggest one conclusion that can be drawn from this research is that official discourse and everyday maternal experience appear increasingly distant from each other.
Faircloth, C. and Lee, E. (2010). Introduction: ’Changing Parenting Culture’. Sociological Research Online [Online] 15. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.5153/sro.2249.
The essays in this special section emerge from the 'Changing Parenting Culture' series of ESRC research seminars, held between January 2009 and June 2011 at a range of UK universities. Run by the network of scholars 'Parenting Culture Studies', the seminars brought together academics working internationally in a range of disciplines, as well as those in policy and practice to examine shifts in parenting culture. Topics discussed included parenting culture and risk, gender and policy, and the extension of 'parenting' into the pre-pregnancy phase.
Lowe, P., Lee, E. and Yardley, L. (2010). Under the influence? The construction of foetal alcohol syndrome in UK newspapers. Sociological Research Online [Online] 15:2. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.5153/sro.2225.
Today, alongside many other proscriptions, women are expected to abstain or at least limit their alcohol consumption during pregnancy. This advice is reinforced through warning labels on bottles and cans of alcoholic drinks. In most (but not all) official policies, this is linked to a risk of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) or one of its associated conditions. However, given that there is little medical evidence that low levels of alcohol consumption have an adverse impact on the foetus, we need to examine broader societal ideas to explain why this has now become a policy concern. This paper presents a quantitative and qualitative assessment of analysis of the media in this context. By analysing the frames over time, this paper will trace the emergence of concerns about alcohol consumption during pregnancy. It will argue that contemporary concerns about FAS are framed around a number of pre-existing discourses including alcohol consumption as a social problem, heightened concerns about children at risk and shifts in ideas about the responsibility of motherhood including during the pre-conception and pregnancy periods. Whilst the newspapers regularly carried critiques of the abstinence position now advocated, these challenges focused did little to refute current parenting cultures. Â© Sociological Research Online, 1996-2010.
Lee, E. and Ingham, R. (2010). Why do women present late for abortion. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology [Online] 24:479-489. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2010.02.005.
This article summarises the findings of studies relating to why women present for abortion at gestations of more than 12 weeks. Its primary focus is on British experience, but relevant studies from other countries are described. Key findings reveal that there are many different reasons. Much of the delay occurs prior to women requesting an abortion; other key issues include women’s concerns about what is involved in having the abortion and aspects of relationships with their partners and/or parents. Further, after requesting an abortion, delays are partly ‘service-related’ – for example, waiting for appointments – and partly ‘woman-related’ for example, missing or cancelling appointments. The relative contributions to the delay of these various factors are discussed. The implications of the research for abortion education and service
provision are considered. Abortion for reasons linked to foetal abnormality is not covered in this article.
Lee, E. and Lowe, P. (2010). Advocating alcohol abstinence to pregnant women: Some observations about British policy. Health, Risk & Society [Online] 12:301-311. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13698571003789690.
In 2007, the English Department of Health (DH) issued advice stating 'pregnant woman' and 'those trying to conceive' should abstain from drinking alcohol. As others have noted, this advice was issued despite their being no new evidence about the deleterious effects of low levels of alcohol consumption. In this paper, we argue this development is significant for the social construction of 'risk', since in advocating abstinence without an evidence base for this advice, policy makers formalise a connection between uncertainty and danger. We suggest this development has important implications, most obviously for pregnant women, certainly impacting on the nature of the advice they will now receive and likely more generally on their experience of the transition to motherhood. We suggest it has wider implications for individuals' experience also, as policy makers appear to be advocating the same approach to risk to non-pregnant people. Further, it suggests a noteworthy formalisation of a new definition of risk, which should be debated far more extensively, as it matters for the future development of health policy.
Lee, E., Macvarish, J. and Bristow, J. (2010). Risk, health and parenting culture. Health, Risk & Society [Online] 12:293-300. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13698571003789732.
In this Editorial, we have three aims. We mainly aim to highlight the key issues raised in the papers that follow, and orient readers to some thematic and methodological connections between them. We have divided the papers into three thematic groups: expert-led constructions of the risk-managing parent; risk society and the development of parental identity with reference to food; and extending 'parenting' backwards. We explain what we mean by these themes and how each paper fits in. We also seek to explain the background to this special issue of Health Risk and Society, and we describe the seminar series that gave rise to it, and make some points about what we mean by the general subject area for that series, 'parenting culture'. Our final objective is to draw attention to a key point that emerges from the research discussed here, namely the importance of 'parenting' as a key site for the development of the risk-centred society and risk-consciousness.
Ingham, R., Lee, E., Clements, S. and Stone, N. (2008). Reasons for Second Trimester Abortions in England and Wales. Reproductive Health Matters [Online] 16:18-29. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0968-8080(08)31375-5.
This paper summarises the findings of a study on second trimester abortion in England and Wales in 2005. Second trimester abortions constitute a relatively small proportion of the total number of legal abortions performed in these countries yet attract quite substantial public, and particularly media, attention. Discussion of these abortions has, however, been conducted within a context of little understanding of the factors which explain why they happen. This paper starts with a brief introduction to the policy context for provision of second trimester abortion, and a summary of existing research in the area. It then presents the results of a survey of 883 women on their own reasons why they had abortions in the second trimester The key concept is that of "delay" and reasons for delay in seeking or obtaining abortion at five stages in the pathway to abortion. No clear, single reason emerges. Amongst the main reasons identified ore uncertainty about what to do if they were pregnant, not realising they were pregnant, experiencing bleeding which may hove been confused with continuing to hove periods, and changes in personal circumstances. The paper ends with a consideration of the implications of the results for education, policy development and service provision.
Lee, E., Ingham, R. and Clements, S. (2008). Reasons for second trimester abortion in England and Wales. Reproductive Health Matters [Online] 16:18-29. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0968-8080(08)31375-5.
This paper summarises the findings of a study on second trimester abortion in England and Wales in 2005. Second trimester abortions constitute a relatively small proportion of the total number of legal abortions performed in these countries yet attract quite substantial public, and particularly media, attention. Discussion of these abortions has, however, been conducted within a context of little understanding of the factors which explain why they happen. This paper starts with a brief introduction to the policy context for provision of second trimester abortion, and a summary of existing research in the area. It then presents the results of a survey of 883 women on their own reasons why they had abortions in the second trimester. The key concept is that of “delay” and reasons for delay in seeking or obtaining abortion at five stages in the pathway to abortion. No clear, single reason emerges. Amongst the main reasons identified are uncertainty about what to do if they were pregnant, not realising they were pregnant, experiencing bleeding which may have been confused with continuing to have periods, and changes in personal circumstances. The paper ends with a consideration of the implications of the results for education, policy development and service provision.
Cet article résume les conclusions d'une étude sur l'avortement du deuxième trimestre en Angleterre et au Pays de Galles en 2005. Les avortements du deuxième trimestre représentent une proportion relativement modeste du nombre total d'avortements légaux pratiqués dans ces pays, mais ils attirent beaucoup l'attention du public et en particulier des médias. Le débat sur ces avortements s'est néanmoins déroulé dans un contexte où les facteurs qui les expliquent sont mal compris. L'article commence par une brève présentation du contexte politique pour la pratique de l'avortement du deuxième trimestre, et un résumé de la recherche dans ce domaine. Il expose ensuite les résultats d'une enquête ayant demandé à 883 femmes leurs raisons pour avoir avorté au deuxième trimestre. Le concept clé est celui de « retard » et des raisons du retard de la demande et de l'obtention de l'avortement à cinq étapes de la voie vers l'avortement. Aucune raison claire et unique n'est apparue. Parmi les principales raisons identifiées, figurent l'incertitude sur la conduite à tenir en cas de grossesse, le fait que les femmes ignoraient qu'elles étaient enceintes, des pertes de sang leur ayant fait croire qu'elles continuaient à avoir leurs règles, et des changements dans leur situation personnelle. L'article s'achève en examinant les conséquences des résultats pour l'éducation, la définition des politiques et la prestation des services.
En este artículo se resumen los resultados de un estudio sobre el aborto en el segundo trimestre, realizado en Inglaterra y Gales, en 2005. Los abortos de segundo trimestre constituyen una proporción relativamente pequeña del número total de abortos legales efectuados en estos países; sin embargo, atraen considerable atención pública, particularmente de los medios de comunicación. No obstante, el debate sobre estos abortos ha transcurrido en un contexto de poco entendimiento de los factores que explican por qué ocurren. Este artículo comienza con una introducción concisa al contexto de políticas para la prestación de servicios de aborto en el segundo trimestre, y un resumen de las investigaciones realizadas al respecto. Después, se presentan los resultados de una encuesta entre 883 mujeres sobre sus propios motivos para tener abortos en el segundo trimestre. El concepto clave es el de “demora” y las razones para aplazar la búsqueda u obtención de servicios de aborto en cinco etapas en la ruta hacia el aborto. No surge ninguna razón clara y única. Las principales razones mencionadas fueron: incertidumbre sobre qué hacer si estaban embarazadas, no darse cuenta de que estaban embarazadas, experimentar sangrado, que pudo haber sido confundido con continuar teniendo la regla, y cambios en circunstancias personales. Para concluir, se analizan las implicaciones de los resultados para la educación, la formulación de políticas y la prestación de servicios.
Lee, E. (2008). Living with risk in the age of ’intensive motherhood’: Maternal identity and infant feeding. Health, Risk & Society [Online] 10:467-477. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13698570802383432.
Socio-cultural studies have suggested that, even in societies where it is a commonplace practice, infant feeding with formula milk can compromise women's identity as 'good mothers.' This proposition is explored in this paper. We first provide a brief review of literature that has considered the broad socio-cultural context for infant feeding, that of 'intensive motherhood.' Attention is drawn to the idea that this context is one in which feeding babies formula milk is constructed as risky, for physical health but also for the mother-child relationship. Drawing on data from a study of mothers living in the UK, the paper then explores how mothers actually experience infant feeding with formula milk and how they live with a context that deems their actions risky. Maternal experience is found to include variously moral collapse, feelings of confidence, expressions of defiance and defensiveness, and opting to go it alone in response to 'information overload.' Despite these variations in how mothers live with risk, the conclusion is drawn that the current cultural context does appear to be one overall in which mothers who formula feed often have to struggle hard to maintain a positive sense of themselves as mothers.
Lee, E. (2007). Health, morality, and infant feeding: British mothers’ experiences of formula milk use in the early weeks. Sociology of Health & Illness [Online] 29:1075-1090. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9566.2007.01020.x.
The way mothers feed their babies is, internationally, the subject of research, health policy initiatives, and popular discussion, which commonly affirm the mantra 'breast is best'. On one level, this mantra reflects scientific evidence about nutrition and maternal and infant health. From a socio-cultural perspective, the pro-breastfeeding message has, however, been considered an aspect of morality, which influences maternal identity in important ways. This article explores this idea. It does so primarily by reporting and discussing some findings from a study about British mothers' experiences of using formula milk for infant feeding. The paper begins by contextualising this discussion by briefly outlining some aspects of the construction of infant feeding as a social problem in Britain, focusing in particular on the influence of 'the new paradigm of health'.
Lee, E. (2007). Infant feeding in risk society. Health, Risk & Society [Online] 9:295-309. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13698570701488910.
A large percentage of British women, in common with women in other Western countries, feed their young babies formula milk. The paper reports some findings of a study of infant feeding that focussed on women's experiences of feeding their babies this way. Data about this issue were collected through detailed, qualitative face to face interviews with 33 mothers and through telephone interviews using a structured questionnaire with 503 mothers. The study found overall that mother's accounts of feeding babies formula milk draw attention to contradictions and tensions in motherhood and mothering. Formula feeding is predominantly experienced by mothers as 'easy,' enabling them to address a wide range of demands and difficulties that mothering a small baby poses for them. At the same time, mothers demonstrate awareness of the socio-cultural construction of the 'moral mother' as the mother who minimizes and avoids risk, and so does not use formula milk for infant feeding. How women react to this tension between 'real life' and 'doing what is healthy' varies, but the study reported here found a large minority of women experience manifestly difficult and debilitating feelings as they attempt to reconcile a pragmatic wish or need to formula feed with dominant constructions of the 'moral mother.' By detailing women's accounts of this aspect of motherhood, the paper contributes to sociological investigation of everyday experiences of risk society. To contextualize this discussion, a brief account of the relationship between eating, feeding babies and risk society is also offered.
Lee, E. (2006). Medicalizing Motherhood. Society [Online] 43:47-50. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02698485.
Frank Furedi's contribution to the discussion of medicalization" resonated strongly with findings from my own research about contemporary representations of women's emotional experiences. It is indeed the case that compared to the 1970s there is very little contest and debate about the increasing use of illness labels to account for these experiences. To the contrary, there is now wide acceptance of the idea that the most positive development that can take place for women is for more of them to be diagnosed as ill. It is also the case that, as part of this, women's lives are subject to the "unprecedented medicalization of social experience" through the "construction of new psychological conditions" to which Furedi refers.
Lee, E. (2005). Debating late abortion: time to tell the truth. Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Healthcare [Online] 31:7-9. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1783/0000000052972933.
Lee, E. (2004). Young women, pregnancy and abortion in Britain: a discussion of law ‘in practice’. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family [Online] 18:283-304. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/18.3.283.
This contribution draws primarily on findings of an interview study with a group of young women living in Britain who conceived a pregnancy when aged under 18. Through discussion of their narratives, it aims to provide insights about areas of young women’s experience that legal scholars have highlighted as potentially problematic under the current legal framework; namely involvement of parents when those aged under 16 seek medical treatment, and the provision of abortion to under 18s. The broader aim here is to provide comment on the gap between abortion law ‘on paper’, and ‘in practice’. The paper finds that abortion law in Britain operates in practice in a way that differs from what might be expected on the basis of its terms on paper, in that most young women are unlikely to encounter major difficulties when accessing abortion. Nevertheless a key criticism made of the law by legal scholars – that it medicalizes abortion – emerges as having continuing validity, and the conclusion is drawn that the rules that regulate abortion in Britain should remain subject to challenge.