Opportunity or Threat? Disagreements in the identification and avoidance of risk
September 20 2009
Venue: Innogen Seminar Room 00-13, Ground Floor Chambers Building, The Open University
Organised by: ESRC Innogen, The Open University, Milton Keynes
The meaning of "risk" has changed over ime and contemporary use has extended its meaning and also what it signifies. From its former value-free association with hazard, uncertainty and uncharted waters, risk has come to stand for the opposite of benefit and for the likelihood that something unpleasant will occur. Thus it can be used, according to Mary Douglas, as a 'weapon' in the 'struggle for ideological domination'.
Using ethnographic data from recent research in the field of donor-assisted human conception in the UK, I shall explore the extent to which the struggle is partly a strategy to deflect blame. I shall describe and analyse attitudes to the use of personal gamete donors, that is, donors or semen or ova who are recruited and known personally to recipients prior to treatment being carried out at a licensed infertility clinic. The differeing attitudes to the practice illuminate contrasting expectations about donor assisted conception and disagreements about whether creating risky relationships is rational and responsible.