Calculated risk : constructions of risk in biomedical, feminist, and lay perceptions of conception-assisting technologies
Roy, Stephannie Charlotte
Master of Arts
SubjectHuman reproductive technology Moral and ethical aspects
Infertility, Female Treatment Risk factors
Human reproductive technology
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This thesis explores how different social and political interests frame interpretations and assessments of the risks of conception-assisting technologies among biomedical clinicians, infertile women seeking treatment, and feminist analysts— three important groups involved in the debate over the efficacy, safety and acceptability of conception-assisting technologies. Through a review of interdisciplinary secondary source data on risk and conception-assisting technologies, I detail the prevailing theories on risk, risk assessment and risk acceptability. I elaborate the particular perspectives on risk held by each of the three groups and the social and political influences which shape them. I also explore how differing conceptions of risk affect decision making and the acceptance of technology. I argue that to understand differing risk constructions it is necessary to understand the social, political, economic and cultural framework within which these risk determinations are made. This discussion of risk and conception-assisting technologies should be viewed and analyzed as part of a wider debate about socializing technology. It also makes way for more comparative sociological analyses of different groups' risk assessments of technological innovations.