Fertility treatment and organizational discourses of the female non-reproductive body

Lucia Cervi*, Joanna Brewis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper contributes to debates on the intersections between organizations, the body, and reproduction by exploring how the non-reproductive female body is discursively (re)constructed by organizations which provide fertility treatment, such as private clinics and fertility magazines. Organization studies has neglected the non-reproductive body, despite a fair amount of research on its reproductive counterpart, especially pregnant and maternal bodies. Equally, these discussions privilege the employment relationship – for example, how women are enjoined to manage their bodies at work – whereas we concentrate on the marketplace, or the field of fertility treatment, and the organizations therein. These organizations, while focused on reproducing bodies, also influence, compound, and challenge notions of the bodies they are involved with. Through a Critical Discourse Analysis of texts produced by UK fertility organizations, we present three discourses of the non-reproductive female body that (re)generate subject positions where the absence of reproduction is a medical condition, an emotionally distressing experience, and something that needs to be cared for. Our argument suggests how the texts can operate as a form of Foucauldian governmental biopower, emphasizing how they hail the infertile female subject.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-27
Number of pages20
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Issue number1
Early online date5 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • biopower
  • body
  • Critical Discourse Analysis
  • fertility treatment
  • Foucault
  • hailing
  • infertility
  • organizations
  • reproduction


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