The association of the term «treatment» in biomedical procedures dealing with infertility, is frequent for common sense. However, far from being limited to the use of one or more biomedical techniques, women who resort to reproductive technologies to achieve pregnancy, display trajectories in which biographical, discursive and structural dimensions interplay.
The general objective of the research corresponding to this doctoral thesis is to analyze the trajectories in technomediated reproduction of women residing in the city of Bahía Blanca, province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, between 2010 and 2019. As specific objectives, it is proposed, firstly to examine the modes of significance of genetics that shape the trajectories of technomediated reproduction. Secondly, it is aimed at characterizing the perception of risk, the women interviewed develop throughout their treatments. Third, it is proposed to construct types of technomediated reproduction trajectories, according to the practical estimation between genetics and risk made by women who resort to reproductive technologies.
For the development of the research, a qualitative design was chosen, which consisted in conducting 22 interviews with informed consent to women who had gone through technomediated reproduction paths in the city of Bahía Blanca.
The questions that guided the investigation of the thesis swivel around the significance of genetics and risk in the trajectories of technomediated reproduction: Which are the meanings around genetics from which the paths are configured? What types of risks are identified? How are perceived risks intertwined with meanings around genetics?
The thesis starts from considering that, in the context of a city in the interior of the province of Buenos Aires such as the city of Bahía Blanca, hegemonic and heterocentered meanings persist around the family that, based on genetic criteria, define them as sustenance of a natural and social order (Strathern, 1992a, 1992b; 2005; Roberts, 2012; Ariza, 2018a, 2018b, 2017, 2011, 2014, 2010; Irrazábal and Johnson, 2019; Johnson, 2019a, 2019b). The persistence of the hegemonic meanings around family in the city of Bahía Blanca is linked to the influence of religious institutions, although it should be mentioned that progressively the city is experiencing the greater openness to pluralism of meanings (Berger and Luckmann, 1997) of liquid modernity (Bauman, 2003).
This doctoral thesis retakes the theoretical developments that, from the sociological point of view, address the different social dimensions of health (Pitts, 1968; Conrad and Schneider, 1985; Conrad, 2013; Scrambler and Hopkins, 1986; Inhorn and van Balen, 2002; Petracci, Schwarz and Rodríguez Zoya, 2017; Petracci and Rodríguez Zoya, 2018; Rose, 2007, 2012), family and kinship studies (Farquhar, 1996; Finkler, 2000; Franklin, 1997, 2003; Strathern, 2005; Thompson, 2005), and gender studies (Braidotti, 2000; Butler, 2001, 2006; Badinter, 1981). Likewise, the valuable conceptual contributions of the Argentinian academic production are recovered. First, studies on women’s sexual and reproductive health are retaken (Petracci and Pecheny, 2006, 2009; Petracci, Brown and Straw, 2011; Jones, Fígari and Barrón López, 2012; Irrazábal and Felitti, 2018a; Irrazábal and Felitti, 2018b; Brown, 2019, 2016a, 2016b). Second, it draws on studies about tensions and negotiations between the use of reproductive technologies and religious discourses and beliefs in our country, especially regarding the legitimation of a heterocentered socio-family order (Irrazábal, 2012, 2016; Irrazábal and Johnson, 2019; Johnson, 2020a, 2020b, 2019b, 2019c; Pecheny, Jones and Ariza, 2016).
Based on the results of this research, I define the notion of technomediated reproduction trajectories to account for the journeys of those who resort to reproductive technologies to achieve genetically linked descendants. The significance of these trajectories is made through the rhetoric of genetics, a notion that I define as a set of references and discourses around filial ties and the family. The rhetoric of genetics can be detached into two: a rhetoric of correspondence and a rhetoric of contingency. The first emphasizes the achievement of fertilization with the couple’s own genetic material, while the second ponders the social role of upbringing over the genetic link. The expectations around the genetic link with the descendants and the risks are the object of a practical estimation between genetics and risk, which I define as an estimate that permeates the trajectories of technomediated reproduction.