Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RS02_09: Commodification of bodies
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Daniela Bandelli, LUMSA
Location: UP.4.210
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road

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A Critical Perspective of the Post-Human Dismissal of the Body: Gestational Surrogacy within the Sociology of the Body of David Le Breton and the Sociology of the Self-Identity of Anthony Giddens

Giorgio Porcelli

University of Trieste, Italy

Human beings have their existence through the corporeal forms that beget them. Every modification of these forms implies a different definition of humanity. If its limits are written through the flesh which shapes men and women, both subtracting and adding other components transform their personal identity and landmarks which concern them in the eyes of the others. The present contribution seeks to analyze the cultural roots and the social consequences of the disgust of maternity and more in general of the body that are widespread in many currents of post-humanism. Maternal and gestational surrogacy as well as an augmented or refused body are therefore considered the expressions of that dismissal of the body that characterizes post-humanism and cyberculture. These extreme implications of the posthuman thought will be analyzed, in the light of Le Breton's and Giddens’ recent reflections. On the one hand, Le Breton discusses the theories of the augmented body, in which the body's limits are overcome through technological prosthesis and the support of the machine at all stages of human existence starting with ectogenesis which stands as the logical assumption of gestational surrogacy. On the other hand according to Giddens’ theory of Reflexive Modernity, we live in a time when the body and its natural dynamics are subtracted to the human beings and subjected to the domain of genetics and medicine and to the power of experts. It is then essential in the author's opinion to cope with these issues within a public debate about their ethical and social consequences.

Global Care Chains and Surrogacy. The Commodification of Bodies and Care Work in Global Capitalism

Anna Maria Morero Beltrán1, Rosa Ortiz Monera2, Màrius Domínguez Amorós3

1Universitat de Barcelona, Spain; 2Universitat de Barcelona, Spain; 3Universitat de Barcelona, Spain

Surrogacy is often referred to as a form of transnational motherhood in cooperation with people who come from different geographical areas, and often also from different social classes and ethnicities. The global care chains are also considered a transnational form of maternity conformed by women from impoverished countries who perform care work for people, usually of a higher social class and also of different ethnicity.

This communication aims to explore the common points of these two phenomena highly present in the Spanish society: surrogacy and the global care chains, and those factors that make them possible: globalization and the precariousness of care- related functions. In both cases, multiple inequalities are exploited at a global level to ensure the processes of reproduction and care in enriched countries. This communication is part of the R & D project "Surrogacy: parental transformations in Spain in the 21st century" (CSO2014 - 55556P), and will provide first data obtained in the framework of this investigation. More specifically, preliminary results of the survey about surrogacy in Spain will be presented. This survey is pioneer in the analysis of this topic from an integral and multidisciplinary perspective.

Removing the Charity Veil: Surrogacy as Reproductive Labor

Bruna Kern Graziuso

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil

Surrogacy is the name of an accessory reproductive technique, usually coming after an in vitro fertilization, where a woman – called “surrogate” - carries a baby for someone else in her womb. This technique brings a lot of questions about the traditional gender roles - by separating motherhood and pregnancy itself – but, most importantly, brings questions about social, legal and moral implications of the financial compensation of surrogates, a subject that is not discussed frequently in the Sociology field. It is common to see studies criticizing the financial aspects of it – usually calling it commodification of body parts and exploitation of vulnerable women – but the moral dilemma is exclusive for the surrogate’s compensation: there are no discussions about the financial compensation of doctors, lawyers and agencies involved in a surrogacy journey. The main goal of this research is to frame surrogacy as reproductive labor, examining two different scenarios: the surrogates in the United States that are financially compensated and the surrogates in the United Kingdom that are not financially compensated. Through theoretical and empirical research, it is intended to answer those questions: Do British and American surrogates perceive their gestational services as work? Is there a difference in their perception due to the prospect of payment? Do social construction of motherhood influences in their perception of surrogacy as reproductive labor?

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