Macquarie University
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The construction and experience of ‘risk’ in pregnancy and childbirth in Australia

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posted on 2022-03-29, 00:47 authored by Jaclyn Cruz Coleman
This thesis, The Construction and Experience of ‘Risk’ in Pregnancy and Childbirth in Australia, examines the cross-cultural construction and experience of risk in pregnancy and childbirth in present day Australia. Pregnant and birthing women in Australia experience a pervasive sense of risk to their pregnancies and their babies in birthing. To explore this issue, I interviewed women from four different cultural groups, who were pregnant or who had given birth in Australia and I analysed their narratives of reproductive risk experience. I review pertinent themes that emerged in the interviews in relation to three key risk theorists: Douglas’s theories around risk, blame, pollution and taboo, Beck’s Risk Society and Foucault’s Governmentality. In further analysing women’s experiences through the lens of ‘risk’, I argue that the biomedical paradigm uses notions of risk to disempower women in their reproductive experience and that women who do not acquiesce to dominant society’s understanding of ‘risk’ are in peril of being “othered” or stigmatized.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction, literature review, methods and background -- Chapter 2. An overview of dimensions of risk in pregnancy and childbirth -- Chapter 3. Biomedicine, vulnerability and disempowerment -- Chapter 4. Maternity risk and “othering” -- Chapter 5. Conclusion -- Works cited.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 74-80

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Anthropology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Anthropology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Aaron Denham


Copyright Jaclyn Cruz Coleman 2016. Copyright disclaimer:






1 online resource (80 pages)

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