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Constructing Families and Kinship through Donor Insemination

Опубликовано на портале: 19-02-2007
Sociology of Health and Illness. 2006.  Vol. 28. No. 3. P. 261-284. 
This paper presents some central findings of an exploratory qualitative study of New Zealand families with children conceived by donor insemination (DI). Drawing on social anthropological and sociological theorising about kinship and contemporary Western families, the paper explores the ways in which parents and their kin actively construct parent-child relationships and kin connections through the notions of biological and social ties, nature and nurture. The paper discusses three major themes emerging from the data: the social construction of the 'natural facts' of procreation, physical resemblance, and the construction of families through choice, not biology. Whilst the primacy of biological or genetic connection is a powerful cultural theme, particularly evident in the ambiguities and uncertainties for social fathers and their kin, these families also deconstruct this notion. Drawing simultaneously on the power of social and biological connection, using biology as a metaphor for social relations, or by privileging social ties and the formation of families through choice, over time these families strategically establish themselves as the sole parents and kin of their children conceived by DI.
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