The development of midwifery knowledge and its relationship to the curriculum : an investigation of two cases.
This study examines the nature and development of midwifery knowledge and
its relationship to the curriculum. Central to this examination is the thesis that its
origin and development is linked principally to a radical cultural transformation of
society. Ideas from three socio-philosophical theories are used as a conceptual
framework in this analysis. These are modernity, postmodernity and premodernity.
They represent the cultural shifts that have taken place as midwifery has evolved and
play a central role in providing the tools for questioning the impact of cultural
transformation on the construction of midwifery knowledge and to even question
whether there is such a thing called midwifery knowledge.
This study uses a non-experimental research approach. In combines two stages
of enquiry, which involve two cases. The first entails a theoretical investigation of the
evolution of midwifery in the UK. The second phase was conducted in Mauritius. The
data was analysed using the perspective of critical theory.
This study shows that midwifery knowledge is a social construct, culturally
determined, relative and embedded in the historical context. It is interpreted within
two contending worldviews, one scientific and the other religious. Both of these have
to be kept in balance in order to reach a total representation of midwifery knowledge.
Whilst there is a unity of purpose, which is assisting women in giving birth,
the conclusion about the examination of midwifery knowledge suggests that there is
no single body of midwifery knowledge but that there are different knowledges,
which stem from different epistemological positions. How should we integrate these
positions into the development of the curriculum and in tailoring our practice that
must be relevant to a population that is increasingly culturally diverse? This study
concludes by addressing this question and suggests that there is need for further
research into the context within which midwifery knowledge is produced and
legitimised. Other areas for future research are also identified.