Paradigmatic resonance and dysjunction in the development of the human sciences : accountability and expertism in the history of parturial practices
This thesis examines the function of discursive paradigms in the process of subjectivisation and the formulation of objects in the development of the human sciences. The history of childbirth practices exemplifies the operations of paradox and paradigm, and of epistemic changes and continuities, in relation to medical, ethical, and pedagogic discourses. The recent past has brought rapid change in the practices and outcomes of parturition with regard to technologisation, and the improvement in mortality rates. The achievement of technological childbirth has a complex and paradoxical history, and should be understood other than as an inevitable and progressive phenomenon of scientific endeavour, or as a conspiracy of patriarchy which victimises and subjugates women as a matter of intentionality. The histories of the parturient and of the midwife are only partially linked. An examination of childbirth history reveals some of the implications of phallogocentricity for the history of women and for the constitution of gender and gender relations. Midwifery has its own unique but unmistakeable place in the historical discourse of pathologisation and professionalisation - and cannot be regarded simply as an arena of masculine appropriation. The mechanisms for change in parturial practices have been developing to facilitate the modifications of recent history since around 1800, but there are discursive resonances which are linked also to changes in pedagogic organisation which began in the Middle Ages. Further, in order to analyse and evaluate the history of parturition over the past two hundred years, it is necessary to examine the paradigmatic structures based upon dialectical reasoning which have dominated the development of the human sciences since antiquity. Childbirth provides examples of many historical exigencies which informed a panoply of disparate effects, but it is also in many respects unique and anomalous. An exploration of the operations of power, knowledge and influence in this sphere, reveals as much in terms of its resistances as its susceptibilities, to medical appropriation. The history of childbirth is unusual insofar as the technologies and innovations that developed in relation to it, were in fact, slow to be implemented. Evidence of such paradigmatic dysjunction is provided by the examples of the use of forceps, asepsis and anaesthesia in the nineteenth century. This thesis addresses aspects and effects of professionalisation, and the increasingly disciplinary implications of expert discourses for the pregnant and parturient woman in the twentieth century.