Moral work in women's narratives of breastfeeding

Kath Ryan, Paul Bissell, Jo Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Women's narratives of their breastfeeding experiences are sites of construction and reconstruction of self as they undertake moral work in relation to feeding their baby. We engaged Foucault's ‘technologies of the self’ and his notion of ethics (the relationship with self) to examine that moral work (individual actions rather than adherence to universal moral codes) in relation to women's subjectivity constructed in interviews with 49 women from the UK. Four categories of moral work were identified: biographical preservation, biographical repair, altruism and political action. We describe each of these and conclude that women's embodied experience and sense of self are disciplined within current, limited, often punishing discourses by undertaking painful moral work in order to maintain or repair their subjective positions. We suggest the development of new subject positions around infant feeding practices.
LanguageEnglish
Pages951-958
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume70
Issue number6
Early online date13 Jan 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Breast Feeding
narrative
Altruism
altruism
political action
Ethics
baby
subjectivity
infant
experience
reconstruction
moral philosophy
Interviews
Technology
discourse
interview
Repair

Cite this

Ryan, Kath ; Bissell, Paul ; Alexander, Jo. / Moral work in women's narratives of breastfeeding. In: Social Science and Medicine. 2010 ; Vol. 70, No. 6. pp. 951-958.
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Moral work in women's narratives of breastfeeding. / Ryan, Kath; Bissell, Paul; Alexander, Jo.

In: Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 70, No. 6, 03.2010, p. 951-958.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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