Artificially maintained scientific controversies, the construction of maternal choice and caesarean section rates

Sarda, Gita (2011) Artificially maintained scientific controversies, the construction of maternal choice and caesarean section rates. Social Theory and Health, 9 2: 166-182. doi:10.1057/sth.2010.12


Author Sarda, Gita
Title Artificially maintained scientific controversies, the construction of maternal choice and caesarean section rates
Journal name Social Theory and Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1477-8211
1477-822X
Publication date 2011
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1057/sth.2010.12
Open Access Status
Volume 9
Issue 2
Start page 166
End page 182
Total pages 17
Place of publication Basingstoke, Hants, United Kingdom
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Subject 3306 Health (social science)
3312 Sociology and Political Science
Abstract Caesarean section rates are continuing to rise in many countries. This is despite mounting evidence that unnecessarily high rates are associated with adverse health outcomes for mothers and their offspring and create a significant economic burden on health systems. This article draws on Bruno Latour's account of the artificially maintained scientific controversy to explore how professional bodies have managed to resist calls for reform by casting doubt on this evidence. Having undermined the evidence in question, these bodies insist that deference must be paid to maternal choice. However, choice is never problematised and the focus on maternal choice is used as a way of maintaining current practice. Science and technology studies has made us accustomed to being on our guard against unfounded claims to scientific certainty. This article demonstrates that we must also be wary of the opposite phenomenon, namely, of doubt being cast on a credible body of scientific evidence so as to justify inertia. When a narrative of scientific uncertainty is tied to fine sounding but ultimately spurious calls to respect patient autonomy, those with a vested interest in preserving the status quo are armed with a potent device with which to block demands for change.
Keyword Caesarean Section
Maternal choice
Medical Knowledge
Scientific knowledge
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Medicine Publications
 
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