Journal article
(De)politicising pregnancy-related risk : gender and power in media reporting of a maternity ward closure

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Publication Details
Author list: Larsson, Emelie
Publication year: 2018
Start page: 227
End page: 240
Number of pages: 14
ISSN: 1369-8575
View additional information: View in Web of Science™


Following a restructuring of Swedish healthcare in the 1990s - moving from a welfare model to one inspired by New Public Management - maternity care in Sweden is increasingly centralised to bigger towns. This has led to several units being relocated or forced to close, and to a bigger distance to maternity care for women living in smaller towns and rural areas. In the present article, I analyse the media reporting on the recent closure of the maternity ward in Solleftea, a small town in Swedens northern region. Using intersectional risk theory, I explore how pregnancy-related risks are articulated in Swedish newspapers, and how such articulations relate to power and ideology. Articles from three Swedish newspapers, published during a 4-month period, have been analysed using critical discourse analysis. I conclude that the newspaper articles were most likely to stress the family as the main risk victim, while the pregnant woman was rarely the focus of risk articulations. When she was, risks were described as worry or unworthiness, and never in medical terms. When such articulations appeared within an individualist ideological discourse, they were naturalised and as such, disconnected from the political decision to close the maternity ward. My contention is that a feminist perspective is largely missing in the media articles and that a bigger focus on the effect that maternity ward closures have for women living outside urban centres is needed.

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