Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Pregnant in Britain : a sociological approach to Asian and British women's experiences

By Hilary Homans


Human reproduction should not be viewed independently\ud from social reproduction, for to do so limits the perspective\ud of the observer. This thesis examines the limitations of\ud previous studies of human reproduction from an anthropological,\ud psychological, medical and sociological view point. It\ud proposes an alternative feminist perspective which looks at\ud the totality of the pregnancy experience as expressed by\ud the women themselves.\ud Although all women perceive fundamental experiences in\ud common, related to their status as women in male dominated\ud societies, it is argued that there are significant socially\ud determined differences between women in the way they react\ud to these experiences. To establish the extent to which all\ud women have pregnancy experiences in common and to which they\ud have different experiences, two separate groups of women\ud (South Asian and indigenous British) were selected for study.\ud These women were interviewed twice during their pregnancy\ud (using a questionnaire and in—depth interviewing) in an\ud attempt to determine their expectations and experiences of\ud the maternal health services and the extent to which their social\ud class, ethnic background and parity, shaped these experiences.\ud Differences in utilisation of services emerge which are\ud based on the women's social class, length of education,\ud cultural background and parity. Tensions are apparent between\ud lay beliefs about health and illness in pregnancy and the\ud medical model which treats all pregnant women as potentially\ud pathological. The clinical model of pregnancy overlooks the\ud social meaning of pregnancy to the woman and her social\ud network and thus is inadequate in this respect.\ud Inevitably, the amount of support and advice pregnant women\ud receive from their social network varies considerably and is\ud closely related to social class and cultural background.\ud The thesis concludes with suggestions for structural changes\ud in society which are necessary if women are to have autonomy\ud over their actions (particularly in relation to reproduction).\ud These changes involve the erosion of sex, class, and race\ud differences in society, which at present ensure that certain\ud groups are better able to manipulate services to their needs.\ud A list of practical recommendations is detailed suggesting\ud specific points which, if implemented, would make women's future\ud pregnancy experiences richer and more rewarding

Topics: HQ, RG
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (14th July, 1973), 'Vitamin B12
  2. (1845), Hindu System of Medicine.
  3. (1943), The Peckham Experiment: A Study of the Living Structure of Society, George Allen doi
  4. (1950),
  5. (1951), The Social System,
  6. (1952), 'Expert Committee on Maternity Care: first report, a preliminary survey'. WHO Technical Report Series No.51,P.46-60. Geneva.
  7. (1956), 'A Psychological Investigation of Primigravidae IV — Psychological Factors and the Clinical Phenomena of Labour'. Journal of Obstetrics doi
  8. (1957-58), 'Race, Complications of Pregnancy doi
  9. (1957), 'Administration of Maternal and Child Health Services'. WHO Technical Report Series No.115, (1966), 'The Midwife in Maternity Care'. WHO Technical Report Series No.331.
  10. (1957), 'The Nature doi
  11. (1960), Family and Class in a London Suburb, Rout ledge, London.
  12. (1960), The Rites of Passage, The doi
  13. (1961-62),'Social
  14. (1961), 'Field Work Methods in Social Anthropology', in
  15. (1961), 'The Cultural Definition of Illness
  16. (1962), 'A Comparative doi
  17. (1967), Race, Community and Conflict: A Stud doi
  18. (1968), The New Childbirth, Hart Publishing Company.
  19. (1969), Colour and Citizenship, doi
  20. (1970), 'Domiciliary Midwifery and Maternity
  21. (1970),'Late Bookersfor Ante—natal Care'., in In the
  22. (1970),Health and Welfare of the Immigrant Child, Community Relations Commission. (1978), 'The role of the primary health care team in the management of pregnancy', in Kitzinger, S. and Davis, J.A. (Eds.), ibid.
  23. (1971), doi
  24. (1971), Rampal and his Family-,
  25. (1971), The Khanna Study : Population Problems in the Rural Punjab, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. doi
  26. (1972)
  27. (1972),
  28. (1972), 'Preparing the Unmarried Mother
  29. (1972), 'The Role of the Father in doi
  30. (1972), Managers
  31. (1972), Report on doi
  32. (1972), The Future General Practitioner Learning and Teaching, B.M.A. House, London. doi
  33. (1972). (1972), The Limitations of Social Research, Longman. (1975), 'Some notions of "purity" and "impurity" among the Zulu'.
  34. (1973),
  35. (1973), 'Social and Psychological Aspects of doi
  36. (1973), 'The Politics of Birth Practices: doi
  37. (1973), 'The Role of the Hospital in the Development of Modern doi
  38. (1973), The Symmetrical Family, Routledge and Kegan Paul. doi
  39. (1974), 'Having Your Baby', mimeo.—638— TAYLOR, C. and
  40. (1974), 'Is Female to Male as Nature doi
  41. (1974), 'Obeying Doctors' Orders : doi
  42. (1974), 'The Mastery of Work and the Mystery of Sex in
  43. (1974), Exploitation of Illness in Capitalist Society, Bobbs—Merril, New
  44. (1974), The Protection of Maternity and Infancy, Council for Children's Welfare, London.
  45. (1974), Women, Culture and Society,Standford.
  46. (1975) 2 'Engels Revisited : Women, the Organisation of Production
  47. (1975), 'Childbirth Education, Maternal Attitudes and Delivery'. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Vol.123, Part 2, p.185-90.
  48. (1975), 'Convergences and Divergences: Anthropology and Sociology doi
  49. (1975), 'Innovation in Medical Practice: Obstetricians and the Induction of Labour in GB'. doi
  50. (1975), Indian Paediatrics, doi
  51. (1975), Introduction to Ayurveda : Basic
  52. (1975), Toward an Anthropology of
  53. (1976), 'Wise Woman and
  54. (1976), 'Women's Liberation, Reproduction and doi
  55. (1976), Asians in Britain. Nutrition Publication.
  56. (1977), 'General Practitioners and Consultants in early nineteenth century England:
  57. (1977), 'Sexual Pollution: Reproductive Sex Taboos doi
  58. (1977), 'Women, Capitalism and Sexuality'. Paper given at Socialist Feminist Conference on
  59. (1978), 'Fatherhood: the Social Construction of Pregnancy and doi
  60. (1979), 'Sexism in Official Statistics', in Demystifying
  61. (25th January, 1977), 'Births by
  62. (27th January, 1976), 'Births by
  63. (29th March, 1976), 'Patient Satisfaction With Maternity Care'.
  64. (August, 1975), The Health doi
  65. (eds.),
  66. (February, 1968), Public Health Aspects of Immigration. National Committee for Commonwealth doi
  67. (November, 1962), 'Medical Care in Fatal Illnesses of a
  68. (October, 1954), 'Expert Committee on Health Education of the Public'. WHO Technical Report Series No.89, Geneva.
  69. 17th
  70. 1958) 2 'Comparison of Prematurity and Perinatal Mortality doi
  71. 1974), 'The Sexual Context of Social Research', The American Sociologist, Vol.9, p.111-116.
  72. 1978), doi
  73. 1979). Personal Communication. doi
  74. A. (1972), Sex, Gender doi
  75. A.R. Vol.13, p.195-210.
  76. and
  77. (1968). April, doi
  78. April, 1963), 'Pregnancy Cravings (DolaDuka) in Relation to Social Structure and Personality in a
  79. (1978). B.
  80. B. (1974), 'Mediation of Contradiction: Why Mbum Women Do
  81. BEECHAM, doi
  82. (1975). Birth Rituals in Cross—Cultural Perspective: Some Practical Applications', doi
  83. C.E. STROUD, E.C. doi
  84. Care in a West African Village'. Nursing Mirror.
  85. (1964). Culture and Perinatal Environment in American Society,
  86. December 1975), 'The Trap of
  87. E. (1969), Freedom and Reality, Paperfronts,
  88. ECONOMICS (1974a), 'The Ideology of Sex Differences', in Conditions
  89. (1977). Explaining Pain and Enjoyment in Childbirth', doi
  90. FARNUM, doi
  91. (1969). Folklore of Pregnancy: Wives Tales in Contra Costa County, doi
  92. for
  93. From History, Pluto Press. doi
  94. G.P.'s
  95. H.P. PICKERING, W.S.F. (1972), 'Some Observations on the
  96. (1977). Health Ideologies and Medical Cultures in the South Kanara Areca Nut Belt. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis,
  97. Housewife,
  98. in
  99. J. (Autumn 1978), Paper presented to Coventry—Birmingham
  100. June, 1977), 'Competing Ideologies of Reproduction: Medical and Material Perspectives on Pregnancy and Birth'. Paper presented at 2nd Seminar on Human Relations and
  101. M.P.M.
  102. (1975). Maternity Services doi
  103. Medical
  104. (1979). Meeting Maternity Costs',
  105. (1976). Midwife or Obstetric Nurse? Some Perceptions of Midwives and Obstetricians of the Role of doi
  106. Negro
  107. Notes
  108. (1977). November,
  109. of
  110. (1969). of Resort doi
  111. of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol.66, p.223-48.
  112. on
  113. Passage:
  114. (1966). Peasant Fatalism and Socio Economic Innovation'. doi
  116. POLSKY
  117. PORTER,
  118. Post doi
  119. POULANTZAS, N. (1973), Political Power and Social Class, London,
  120. Pregnancy
  121. Press.
  122. RAMANAMURTHY, P.S.V.(1969), Joyrnal of Nutrition and Diet,
  123. RAPHAEL, D. (1975), 'Matrescence, Becoming a doi
  124. Report.
  125. S.; GORDON, J.E. and WYON, J.B. (September, 1962), 'Variations in Pre—Natal Care and Well—Child Supervision
  126. Scarlet doi
  127. Spare Rib, No.78, p.15-17.— 640 — WEEKS, J.R.
  128. TEW, M. (1978), 'The Case Against Hospital Deliveries : The Statistical Evidence',
  129. the
  130. (1979). The Future of Gynaecology', Paper given at Human Relations in Obstetric Practice Seminar,
  131. (1976). The Significance of Reported Childbirth Pain',
  132. THOMPSON, L.J. (1942), doi
  133. THOMPSON, M.4. (1970), A Study of Generation Differences in Immigrant Groups with Particular Reference to Sikhs. M.Phil. Thesis, University
  134. THOMPSON/ B and (1967), 'Some Impressions of Childbearing in doi
  135. TULSKY,
  136. UDAPA, K.N. (1975), 'The Ayurvedic System of Medicine in
  137. VAHIA, N.S. (1962), 'Cultural Differences in
  138. WATKINS, E.L. WATSON, doi
  139. WEST,
  140. WOLFE, D.M.
  141. Women doi
  142. (1977). Women and the Welfare State, Tavistock WINCH, R.F. (1967), 'Another Look
  143. WOMEN COLLECTIVE (1976), 'Purdah in the British Situation',
  144. York.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.