Advertisement

Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 275–291 | Cite as

Women’s Experiences with Infertility: The Fluidity of Conceptualizations of ‘Family’

  • Diana C. Parry
Article

Abstract

In this study, I examine women’s experiences with infertility and the impact upon their conceptualizations of ‘family.’ Active interviews with 32 women revealed most women started out with conceptualizations that reflected a traditional ideology of family. Participants who conceived biological children through medical assistance expressed a broader conceptualization of family through a greater appreciation for their children and family life in general. Women who did not conceive, despite medical assistance to do so, also discussed broadening their conceptualizations so that ‘family’ took on new meanings, structures, and/or significance. Conceptually, the analysis shows how notions of family are not static, but rather a fluid process subject to interpretation and re-evaluation as a result of life events, in this case, encounters with infertility.

Keywords

conceptualizations of family infertility women’s experiences 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Allen, K. R., & Demo, D. H. (1995). The families of lesbians and gay men: A new frontier in family research. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57, 111–127.Google Scholar
  2. Aronson, D. E. (2000). Defining infertility. Public Health Reports, 115, 6.Google Scholar
  3. Bartholet, E. (1999). Nobody’s children: Abuse and neglect, foster drift and the adoption alternative. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bartholet, E. (1993). Family bonds: Adoption and the politics of parenting. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.Google Scholar
  5. Becker, G. (2000). The elusive embryo: How women and men approach new reproductive technologies. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bella, L. (2002). Family making among migrants: Chain migrants and autonomous migrants use their leisure to build caring connections in a new community. Paper presented at the 10th Annual Canadian Conference on Leisure Research, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.Google Scholar
  7. DeVault, M. L. (2000). Producing family time: Practices of leisure activity beyond the home. Qualitative Sociology, 23, 485–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dupuis, S. (1998). Naked truths: Towards a reflexive methodology in leisure research. Leisure Sciences, 21, 43–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fisher, B. (1992). Against the grain: Lives of women without children. IRIS: A Journal About Women, 2, 46–51.Google Scholar
  10. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago, IL: Aldine.Google Scholar
  11. Greil, A. L. (1991). Not Yet Pregnant: Infertile Couples in Contemporary America. New Brunswick: Rutgers.Google Scholar
  12. Greil, A. L., Leitko, T. A., & Porter, K. L. (1988). Infertility: His and hers. Gender and Society, 2, 172–199.Google Scholar
  13. Harding, S. (1991). Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Hequembourg, A. L, & Farrell, M. P. (1999). Lesbian motherhood: Negotiating marginal-mainstream identities. Gender and Society, 13, 540–557.Google Scholar
  15. Horvath, K. A. (1999). Infertility treatment: An argument for mandated coverage. Journal of Health Law, 32, 445–469.Google Scholar
  16. Jordon, C., & Revenson, T. A. (1999). Gender differences in coping with infertility: A meta-analysis. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 22, 341–358.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Kashef, Z. (1998). Miracle babies. Essence, 28, 80–82.Google Scholar
  18. Kaufman, B. J. (1992). Feminist facts: Interview strategies and political subjects in ethnography. Communication Theory, 2, 187–206.Google Scholar
  19. Miall, C. E. (1996). The social construction of adoption: Clinical and community perspectives. Family Relations, 45, 309–317.Google Scholar
  20. Nelson, M. K. (2000). Single mothers and social support: The commitment to, and retreat from, reciprocity. Qualitative Sociology, 23, 291–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Olesen, V. L. (2000). Feminisms and qualitative research at and into the millennium. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research (pp. 215–256). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods (2{nd} Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  23. Prus, R. (1996). Symbolic Interaction and Ethnographic Research: Intersubjectivity and the Study of Human Lived Experience. Albany, NY: State University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Schwandt, T. (2001). Three epistemological stances for qualitative inquiry: Interpretivism, hermeneutics, and social constructionism. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research (pp. 189–214). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  25. Shaw, S. M. (2001). The family leisure dilemma: Insights from research with Canadian families. World Leisure, 43, 53–62.Google Scholar
  26. Springen, K., Scelfo, J., & Pierce, E. (2001, August). The truth about fertility: Why more doctors are warning that science can’t beat the biological clock. Newsweek, 40–48.Google Scholar
  27. Thompson, L. (1992). Feminist methodology for family studies. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 54, 3–18Google Scholar
  28. Ulrich, M., & Weatherall, A. (2000). Motherhood and infertility: Viewing motherhood through the lens of infertility. Feminism and Psychology, 10, 323–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wolf, N. (2001). (Misconceptions). Truth, Lies, and the unexpected on the Journey of Motherhood. New York, NY: Doubleday.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Recreation and Leisure StudiesCentre for Program Evaluation and Behavioural Research, University of WaterlooCanada

Personalised recommendations