I. Childbirth as Symbolic Patterns, Experience and Performance
I. Childbirth as Symbolic Patterns, Experience and Performance Childbirth can acquire manifold meanings in myths, philosophy, literature and religion some of which here will be grouped together and explored as symbolic patterns. By “childbirth” I mean the coming into existence of a child, which is treated differently by the four different symbolic patterns to be analyzed. These symbolic patterns are rather heterogenous, some- times attributing the coming into existence of a child primarily to male “procreation” (“The Supremacy of the Male”), sometimes more relating childbirth to conception, pregnancy and birthgiving on part of the woman (“The Supremacy of the Female”). Furthermore, the symbolic pattern labeled “Theoretical, Spiritual and Political Natality versus Childbirth” leaves aside the question of which body – male or female – gives the more important contribution to the coming into existence of a child. Here, rather, childbirth is seen as lower in value as the realms of ideas, religion, the political or the arts. In contrast to this the symbolic pattern “Harmony between Spiritual/Theoretical Natality and Childbirth” shows that some kind of a “spiritual” birth and childbirth can also go hand in hand with each other. The symbolic patterns of childbirth to be analyzed may reﬂect, stabilize, subvert, change and constitute power relations (e.g. with regard to gender). This work situates itself in the framework of a speciﬁc type of soci- ological study termed “reﬂexive sociology”1 which attempts to uncover “the taken for granted structure of the everyday life-world and of the prac- tice of...
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