The Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy

Tine Ravn

What is a family? Kinship, reproductive practices and single mothers by choice

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch

The proliferation of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) has influenced and facilitated the rise of ‘new’ kinship practices and family formations. Furthermore, these technologies – in obscuring the relation between ‘biological facts of conception and the social categories of kinship’ – have challenged existing normative ideas about family constructions and kinship conceptualizations (Edwards & Salazar 2009:11; Levine 2008; Melhuus 2012). Meanwhile, others have questioned the degree to which our understandings of biogenetic relations have been revised, showing that the application of ARTs is also fashioned by more traditional notions of kinship (Levine 2008; Thompson 2005) and that the nuclear family ideal remains a strong notion within the realms of reproduction and parenting (Cutas & Chan 2012:5). By contributing to this continuing question of how biological and social aspects inform and define kinship and family formation (Edwards & Salazar 2009), this paper first examines how ARTs have given rise to ‘non-traditional’ family forms while also critically reviewing the ‘traditional’ historical aspect of the nuclear family model. The focus then turns to one emerging ‘new’ family form represented by single mothers by choice (SMC’s) who by means of donor insemination and/or IVF treatment, intentionally choose to conceive a child and act as the sole parent. Based on very initial findings from a larger Danish biographical narrative interview study of single mothers by choice, the paper explores how the women conceive and enact the notions of family and kinship in terms of creating significant relations and networks. Furthermore, the paper shows and discusses how a complex interplay of biogenetic and social ties impacts on these family conceptions and how these are shaped within ideal expectations and experienced family practises and within chosen life plans and life chances available.
Original languageDanish
Publication year2014
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventInternational Conference on Critical Kinship Studies - , Denmark
Duration: 8 Oct 201410 Oct 2014

Conference

ConferenceInternational Conference on Critical Kinship Studies
CountryDenmark
Period08/10/201410/10/2014

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