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Health, Risk & Society

Special Issue of Health, Risk & Society on Technological Childbirth in a Transnational Perspective: Creating and managing childbirth risk in contrasting cultural, social and economic settings

Planned Issue publication: Volume 20, Issue 1, early 2018

Issue Themes

The Editors of Health, Risk & Society invite the submission of papers for a special issue on the ways in which technology shapes and impact on the contraction and management of the risk of childbirth in different cultural and social settings. In this special issue we want to publish a series of articles that examine technology and risk in different socio-economic setting drawing on studies from high income countries in the global North as well as studies from middle and low income countries in the global South. We welcome article that use different approaches, for example sociological, anthropological or historical, to examine how technology impacts on the ways in which risk is imagined, talked about, organized and regulated.

The growth of medical technology in childbirth is a well established phenomena. During the 20th century the locus of childbirth, especially in the global North, shifted from women’s own homes to institutional settings managed by professionals. Within these settings technological interventions to manage childbirth have become routinised. In some countries such as Brasil, China, Mexico, Turkey, Italy, C-sections have been normalized as a no-risk and no-pain alternative to ‘natural’ birth ; in others, like France, Québec or United Kingdom, epidural anesthesia is offered to most laboring women. While interventions are justified as being in the interest of mothers and their babies especially mitigating the risk of childbirth, how such risks are perceived varies both over time and between social settings. For example in France in the 1990s epidural anesthesia currently it is more likely to be was represented a form of overmedicalisation creating harmful side effects and an as a method of creating a passive laboring body. However in countries with high levels of Caesarean sections it can be represented as a means of demedicalising childbirth by reducing the number of Caesarean section. Similarly while in many high income countries in the global North Caesarean sections are categorised as potentially dangerous surgical interventions, in many countries especially those in the global South or countries with high levels of litigation over medical risk, they are represented as a way of mitigating risk.


Generally papers should be between 7,000 and 10,000 words and should be based on the analysis of original data. Papers should contribute to our understanding of the relationship between health, risk and society in the context of technological interventions in childbirth. If you are interested in submitting a paper then you can consult one of the editors who will happy to provide advice. Please submit by 31st July 2017.

Editorial information