Medicalization in Action: an Ethnographic View on the Profession of Midwife in Italy
Scienze dei linguaggi, della comunicazione e degli studi culturali Università di Bergamo Bergamo, Italy
Dipartimento di Scienze dei Linguaggi, della comunicazione e degli studi culturali University of Bergamo Bergamo, Italy
The paper presents some findings of research on the profession of midwife conducted in Italy by a team consisting of sociologists and midwives and based upon direct observation of childbirths and in-depth interviews. The paper argues that midwife´s knowledge is subaltern to medical knowledge founded on intervention on a woman´s body. This does not primarily concern medicalization "from above". Rather, organizational and legal factors and hospital routine often prevent midwife?s knowledge from working in the childbirth interaction. Pregnant women, by delegating all choices to other actors, ask for a medicalizing intervention on their own bodies, thus excluding the midwife.