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

Abstract

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.

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Funding

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

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Correspondence to Melissa Graham.

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Smissen, A., Lamaro Haintz, G., McKenzie, H. et al. Discursive Representations of Social Support for Reproductive Decision-Making Among Victorian Women. Sexuality & Culture 24, 883–902 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-019-09670-y

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Keywords

  • Reproduction
  • Decision-making
  • Reproductive decision-making
  • Social support
  • Women