Discursive Representations of Social Support for Reproductive Decision-Making Among Victorian Women

  • Annika Smissen
  • Greer Lamaro Haintz
  • Hayley McKenzie
  • Melissa GrahamEmail author
Original Paper


Social support is a significant, yet little understood, part of the sociocultural environment that impacts women’s reproductive decisions. A discourse analysis was conducted on twenty-three semi-structured interviews with women living in Victoria, Australia. The research identified and explored key interpretive repertoires and ideological dilemmas within the women’s narratives, to better understand the relationship between social support and reproductive decision-making. Two key themes were identified in the women’s narratives; expectations of social support, reflected in the interpretive repertoires “I feel lucky”, and “I don’t blame them”; and constructions of social support, reflected in “my choice, my decision” repertoire, and the gendered repertoire, “she’s open, he’s laid back”. Influenced by dominant social discourses related to women’s control over their bodies, and reproduction as taboo and “women’s business”, these repertoires reflect the constrained provision of social support from others, and simultaneously establish the importance of affirmation of individual choice as a meaningful experience of support for reproductive decision-making. The women’s discursive representations coexist and interact within ideological dilemmas that reflect the complexity of women’s lived experiences of social support and reproductive decision-making. These findings provide insight into women’s perceptions and experiences of social support for reproductive decision-making.


Reproduction Decision-making Reproductive decision-making Social support Women 



This study was funded by the School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deakin UniversityGeelongAustralia
  2. 2.La Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia

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