Reproducing and Redressing Social Suffering During Pregnancy, Childbirth and Early Motherhood

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Politics


The project will investigate how the category of pregnant teenager is constituted, how the knowledges surrounding it are produced and how young pregnant women experience the provision of services aimed at reducing teenage pregnancy and supporting teenage mothers. Drawing on the work of Foucault, it will examine how power works productively through the government of conduct. The project will identify the potentially marginalizing effects of practices aimed at maximizing the health of the population and well-being of individuals.
Initially, the project will examine the existing policy framework within Cornwall in relation to teenage pregnancy. This will be situated historically and geographically through a survey of national and international policy and the academic literature.
Second, interviews will be conducted with teenage pregnant women in Cornwall. The focus is the perspective and experience of the young women, exploring how teenage pregnancy is assimilated and/or resisted by women as part of their identity.
Third, interviews will be conducted with policy actors and health care and social professionals in Cornwall. Through these interviews the project will examine how service providers view the 'problem' of teenage pregnancy and how they view the user-group. It will inquire into how the social norms surrounding teenage pregnancy and mothering support measures of assessment and surveillance. It will explore how regulatory practices surrounding teenage pregnancy become thinkable, how these practices are reproduced and how reflective service providers and policy actors are concerning the potentially marginalizing effects of teenage pregnancy reduction strategies.
The project will combine the interpretation of interviews, observations of policy network and reading of philosophical texts to develop a flexible critical theory of governmentality (which includes genealogy, phenomenology of everyday life and interpretive public policy). The governmentality approach facilitates an analysis of the relations of power at the level of the technologies and practices of everyday government through face to face encounters as the conduct of self. This approach recognizes how expertise as knowledge works to legitimize particular practices and claims to truth through which what can be said and done come to appear meaningful.
The project will recommend improvements to service delivery and policy making driven by the experience of the women and informed by the critical theory of governmentality that is developed. As the Project partner, Healthwatch Cornwall will play an essential part in all stages of the research, including the research design, interpretation of findings, development of recommendations and dissemination.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1638348 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2015 28/02/2025 Ditte Madsen