The Birth Control Pill: Popular Discourse and Personal Experience

Date created: 
2013-01-24
Identifier: 
etd7634
Keywords: 
Biomedicalization
Performativity
Oral contraceptives
Pharmaceutical marketing
Normative femininity
Abstract: 

This thesis explores the evolution of the birth control pill from contraceptive technology to a lifestyle drug over the past fifty years. Drawing from biomedicalization theory, I suggest that contraception is one of many areas of life that have become subject to medical intervention, and use the pill to illustrate how contemporary health is characterized by a shifting landscape of privatization and commodification, new sources of information and knowledge, and an emphasis on optimization of the body. First, I conducted a critical discourse analysis of popular media texts related to the birth control pill in order to highlight problematic themes that characterize dialogue surrounding the pill. Secondly, these issues were compared with the results that emerged from a series of interviews with women who have taken the pill. Through exploring both the public and private realms, I argue that the pill is an agent of both biomedicalization and of gender performativity, and articulate the ways that this important pharmaceutical development enforces hegemonic standards of femininity.

Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
Copyright remains with the author. The author granted permission for the file to be printed and for the text to be copied and pasted.
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Gary McCarron
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Statistics: