Fertility treatment and organisational discourses of the non-reproductive female body

Cervi, Lucia and Brewis, Joanna (2021). Fertility treatment and organisational discourses of the non-reproductive female body. Gender, Work and Organization (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12733

Abstract

This paper contributes to debates on the intersections between organisations, the body and reproduction by exploring how the non-reproductive female body is discursively (re)constructed by organisations which provide fertility treatment, such as private clinics and fertility magazines. Organisation studies has neglected the non-reproductive body, despite a fair amount of research on its reproductive counterpart, especially pregnant and maternal bodies. Equally, these discussions privilege the employment relationship – e.g., how women are enjoined to manage their bodies at work – whereas we concentrate on the marketplace, or the field of fertility treatment, and the organisations therein. These organisations, while focused on reproducing bodies, also influence, compound, and challenge notions of the bodies they are involved with. Through a Critical Discourse Analysis of texts produced by UK fertility organisations, we present three discourses of the non-reproductive female body that (re)generate subject positions where the absence of reproduction is a medical condition, an emotionally distressing experience, and something that needs to be cared for. Our argument suggests how the texts can operate as a form of Foucauldian governmental biopower, emphasising how they hail the infertile female subject.

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