The Foetal Condition: A Sociology of Engendering and Abortion by Luc Boltanski (Hardback, 2013)
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- DescriptionAbortion is a contentious issue in social life but it has rarely been subjected to careful scrutiny in the social sciences. While the legalization of abortion has brought it into the public domain, it still remains a sensitive topic in many cultures, often hidden from view and rarely spoken about, consigned to a shadowy existence. Drawing on reports gathered from hospital settings and in-depth interviews with women who have had abortions, Luc Boltanski sets out to explain the ambiguous status of this social practice. Abortion, he argues, has to remain in the shadows, for it reveals a contradiction at the heart of the social contract: the principle of the uniqueness of beings conflicts with the postulate of their replaceable nature, a postulate without which society would achieve demographic renewal. This leads Boltanski to explore the way human beings are engendered and to analyze the symbolic constraints that preside over their entry into society. What makes a human being is t the foetus as such, ensconced within the body, but rather the process by which it is taken up symbolically in speech - that is, its symbolic adoption. But this symbolic adoption presupposes the possibility of discriminating among embryos that are indistinguishable. For society, and sometimes for individuals, the arbitrary character of this discrimination is hard to tolerate. The contradiction is made bearable, Boltanski shows, by a grammatical categorization: the project foetus - adopted by its parents, who use speech to welcome the new being and give it a name - is juxtaposed to the tumoral foetus, an accidental embryo that will t be the object of a life-forming project. Bringing together grammar, narrations of life experience and an historical perspective, this highly original book sheds fresh light on a social phemen that is widely practised but poorly understood.
- Author BiographyLuc Boltanski is professor of sociology at the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales, Paris. His many books in English include, The New Spirit of Capitalism, On Critique and Love and Justice as Competences.
- Author(s)Luc Boltanski
- PublisherPolity Press
- Date of Publication31/05/2013
- SubjectSocial Issues, Services & Welfare
- Place of PublicationOxford
- Country of PublicationUnited Kingdom
- ImprintPolity Press
- Weight632 g
- Width154 mm
- Height233 mm
- Spine30 mm
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