Authoritative Knowledge, the Technological Imperative and Women's Responses to Prenatal Diagnostic Technologies

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Abstract

Theories about authoritative knowledge (AK) and the technological imperative have received varying levels of interest in anthropological, feminist and science and technology studies. Although the anthropological literature abounds with empirical considerations of authoritative knowledge, few have considered both theories through an empirical, inductive lens. Data extracted from an earlier study of 30 women's responses to termination for fetal anomaly are reanalyzed to consider the women's views of, and responses to, prenatal diagnostic technologies (PNDTs). Findings indicate that a small minority embrace the societal portrayal of technology as univalently positive, while the majority have nuanced and ambivalent responses to the use of PNDTs. Further, the interface of authoritative knowledge and the technological imperative suggests that AK derives not only from medical provider status and technology use, but also from the adequacy and trustworthiness of the information. The issue of timing and uncertainty of the information also are interrogated for their impact on women's lives and what that can illuminate about the theories of AK and the technological imperative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-614
Number of pages25
JournalCulture, medicine and psychiatry
Volume34
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Keywords

  • Authoritative knowledge
  • Pregnancy termination
  • Prenatal diagnosis
  • Technological imperative

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