The representation of women's reproductive rights in the American feminist blogosphere : an analysis of the debate around women's reproductive rights and abortion legislation in response to the reformation of the United States health care system in 2009/10

Yelverton, Brittany (2011) The representation of women's reproductive rights in the American feminist blogosphere : an analysis of the debate around women's reproductive rights and abortion legislation in response to the reformation of the United States health care system in 2009/10. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

This study investigates the representation of women's reproductive rights in the feminist blogopshere during 2009/10 United States health care reform. Focusing on two purposively selected feminist blogsites - Feministing and Jezebel- it critically examines the discursive and rhetorical strategies employed by feminist bloggers to contest the erosion of women's reproductive rights as proposed in health care reform legislation. While the reformation of the U.S. health care system was a lengthy process, my analysis is confined to feminist blog posts published in November 2009, December 2009 and March 2010. These three months have been designated as they are roughly representative of three pivotal stages in health care reform: the drafting of the House of Representatives health care reform bill and Stupak Amendment in November 2009, the creation of the Senate health care bill inclusive of the Nelson compromise in December 2009, and the passage of the finalised health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and supplementary executive order, in March 2010. This study is informed by feminist poststructuralist theory and Foucault's conceptions of discourse and power - an appropriate framework for identifying and analysing the unequal power relations that exist between men and women in patriarchal societies. Foucault conceives of discourse as both socially constituted and constitutive and contends that through the constitution of knowledge, discourses designate acceptable ways of talking, writing, and behaving, while simultaneously restricting and prohibiting alternatives, thereby granting power and authority to specific discourses. However, Foucault also stresses the multi-directionality of power and asserts that though hegemonic discourses are privileged over others, power lays in discursive practice at all social sites; hence the socially and politically transformative power of contesting discourses. Critical discourse analysis is informed by this critical theory of language and regards the use of language as a form of social practice located within its specific historical context. Therefore, it is through engaging in the struggle over meaning and producing different 'truths' through the reappropriation of language that the possibility of social change exists. Employing narrative, linguistic and rhetorical analysis, this study identifies the discursive strategies and tactics utilised by feminist bloggers to combat and contest anti-choice health care legislation. The study further seeks to determine how arguments supportive of women's reproductive rights are framed and how feminist discourses are privileged while patriarchal discourse is contested. Drawing on public sphere theory, I argue that the feminist blogosphere constitutes a counter-public which facili tates the articulation and circulation of marginalised and counter-discourses. I conclude this study by examining the feminist blogopshere's role in promoting political change and transformation through alternative representations of women and their reproductive rights.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Abortion, Law and legislation, United States, Reproductive rights, Fertility, Feminism, Blogs, Health care reform, Women, Social change, Discourse analysis, Feministing, Jezebel
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN4699 Journalism
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Journalism and Media Studies
Supervisors:Prinsloo, J.
ID Code:3699
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:18 Oct 2012 12:10
Last Modified:18 Oct 2012 12:10
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