Birth as an American Rite of Passage (Comparative Studies of Health Systems & Medical Care)

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"[Davis-Floyd] is a respectful listener who has encouraged her subjects to speak honestly about a complex experience. Consequently, even skeptical readers of the fascinating stories she has gathered should be prompted to reflect on the meaning of their own or their partners' experience of birth. . . . I admire, without reservation, the generous, critical, passionate spirit that animates this book."--Sara Ruddick, "New York Times Book Review

Vom Verlag:

Why do so many American women allow themselves to become enmeshed in the standardized routines of technocratic childbirth - routines that can be insensitive, unnecessary and even unhealthy? And why, in spite of the natural childbirth movement, has hospital birth become even more intensively technologized? Robbie Davis-Floyd argues that these obstetrical procedures are rituals that enact the core values of American society. Hospital birth, she says, is a rite of passage that reflects and transmits our cultural belief in the superiority of science over nature, machines over bodies, men over women, institutions over individuals. Most women hold these beliefs, and therefore choose such births. Davis-Floyd's interviews with mothers and health care professionals, interpreted from the perspective of symbolic anthropology, reveal both the trauma and the satisfaction women derive from technocratic birth. The author also explores the ritual socialization of obstetricians, showing how their beliefs and choices, too, are culturally constructed. Pointing to the advantages women can gain from technocratic birth, Davis-Floyd also calls for greater cultural and medical tolerance of the alternative beliefs and rituals of home-birthers. Only when the phenomenon of technocratic childbirth is fully understood can women's birth choices be consciously made.

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