Styr din graviditet! En analyse af en (u)mulig form for styring

Stine Poulsen, Anne Cederlund Rytter & Marie Louise Gørvild

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis takes a closer look at modern management. By its very definition, management never occurs in an innocent or neutral manner. This is true, even when management is characterized by voluntary behavior. Therefore, it urges reflection on the Danish health sector when its maternity care is based on free choice of the individual. For if free choices are not as innocent as they appear, what impact does it have when this very type of management intervenes in the most private and intimate parts of life especially pregnancy? With this in mind, we will research Danish maternity care in the light of an untraditional perception of power. A perception, that doesn’t analyze force or imposition, but on the contrary analyzes voluntary behavior. This notion of power is the underlying basis for French philosopher and social critic Michel Foucault who operates with the perception that power is exercised only through freedom. Motivated by the history and dramatic development of maternity care, we will mark and unfold a special form of management. A management, that thrives of the freedom of individuals on which it conducts without conducting. A management, that in the name of freedom leads us to live life, and give life, in a certain manner. Therefore, this master thesis is not about being pregnant, but how pregnancy is managed. To this end, we analyze how freedom paradoxically becomes a premise for the management of pregnant women, even though the freedom to act independently is always present. Furthermore, we research how the complex and unmanageable character of today’s maternity care becomes subject to management. Through these paradoxical conditions, we point out how modern management of pregnancy is characterized by (im)possible management. This (im)possible management is made possible by explicitly placing the responsibility for a healthy pregnancy on the woman herself. When made responsible, a certain form of freedom is imposed on her; she is on one hand free but on the other obliged to manage her pregnancy in a meaningful way. Condemned to this definition of ‘freedom’ the pregnant woman makes her own strategies of conduct with which the complex and unmanageable maternity care is managed. Even though this thesis will show how the (im)possible management is made possible by pregnant women, we will also attempt reflections on whether or not this kind of management is desirable in a health sector, where technologies and available options of treatment are imposed in rapid speed.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages191