Contraceptive conversations : power, discourse and the social construction of contraceptive use during nurse consultations with women in family planning clinics
This thesis aims to make a significant contribution towards ' a sociology of contraception'. It takes as its starting point the lack of a contraceptive 'strand within the sociological literature on the body generally, and on women's reproductive sexual health specifically. It takes as its focus the under-researched area of nurse/woman contraceptive consultations in family planning clinics, and explores how contraceptive use is discussed. This is undertaken by utilising Foucault's work on discourse and power, and the body theory work of Turner and Frank. Using a 'constructivist' grounded theory approach, incorporating a Foucauldian perspective, 49 consultations between nurses and women were audio taped in two large family planning clinics in the North of England. Interviews with 15 family planning nurses were also conducted. Three categories were identified from the consultation data: 'Body education', 'Body surveillance' and 'Regimen'. Further analysis resulted in the development of two overlapping core categories: Surveillance and Compliance, within which the three initial categories were placed. In the context of these categories, nurses employ discursive techniques to develop the women into effective users of contraception. It is suggested that these discursive techniques construct the 'Reproductively vulnerable body' and utilise this concept to encourage women to become involved in selfsurveillance and self-care practices and to adhere to a contraceptive regimen • further constructing the: 'Active yet compliant patient'. The manner in which the Foucauldian notion of 'Productive power' is utilised within this process is discussed extensively. The thesis concludes by proposing that the contraceptive consultations result in the construction of a 'contraceptive-using body', one that has developed a 'contraceptive habitus' congruent with Foucault's 'techniques of the self'. Furthermore, this process also enables the evaluation of Frank's somewhat neglected 'body types in action' and 'body typology' work.