Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 473–507 | Cite as

Beyond the Simple Economics of Cesarean Section Birthing: Women's Resistance to Social Inequality

  • Dominique P. Béhague


This research explored the reasonsfor women's preferences for cesarean sectionbirths in Pelotas, Brazil. It is argued thatwomen strategize and appropriate both medicalknowledge and the technology of cesareansections as a creative form of responding tolarger public debates (and the practices thatproduced them) on the need for and causes of(de)medicalization. Questioning the reasons whysome women engage more actively in this processthan others elucidates the ways local forms ofpower engage gender, economic and medicalideologies. The current debate on why somewomen prefer c-section deliveries, or indeed ifthey really do at all, has diverted attentionfrom the utility of the technology itself. Thispaper argues that for some women, the effort tomedicalize the birth process represents apractical solution to problems found within themedical system itself. I end by exploring thesocio-biological conditions that have produceda need for the technology.

anthropology cesarean sections epidemiology gender relations medical technology medicalization policy implementation population control social power 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dominique P. Béhague
    • 1
  1. 1.Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, Maternal Health Programme, Infectious and Tropical DiseasesLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineLondonUK

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