Sociology, Department of
Date of this Version
About 10 years ago Greil published a review and critique of the literature on the socio-psychological impact of infertility. He found at the time that most scholars treated infertility as a medical condition with psychological consequences rather than as a socially constructed reality. This article examines research published since the last review. More studies now place infertility within larger social contexts and social scientific frameworks although clinical emphases persist. Methodological problems remain but important improvements are also evident. We identify two vigorous research traditions in the social scientific study of infertility. One tradition uses primarily quantitative techniques to study clinic patients in order to improve service delivery and to assess the need for psychological counseling. The other tradition uses primarily qualitative research to capture the experiences of infertile people in a sociocultural context. We conclude that more attention is now being paid to the ways in which the experience of infertility is shaped by social context. We call for continued progress in the development of a distinctly sociological approach to infertility and for the continued integration of the two research traditions identified here.
Published in Sociology of Health & Illness 32:1 (2010), pp. 140–162; doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2009.01213.x Copyright © 2009 Arthur L. Greil, Kathleen Slauson-Blevins, and Julia McQuillan. Journal compilation © 2009 Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness/Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Used by permission.