The Politics of Co-optation: Strategies for Childbirth Educators


  • Eugene Ft. Declercq Ph.D., A.C.C.E.

    1. Eugene Declercq is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Merrimack College in North Andover, MA 01845. He is an ASPO Certified Childbirth Educator who teaches privately and in two hospitals, and a member of the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA), the National Association of Parents and Professionals for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth (NAPSACj, and the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics (ASPO).
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Co-optation is the process of absorbing new elements into the leadership of an organization in order to diffuse the threat of challenging groups or individuals and to protect the status quo. Childbirth educators and other representatives of parents are targets for attempted co-optation by, among others, advertisers seeking to use the influence of childbirth educators on the buying habits of new parents; by hospitals that incorporate the form of childbirth classes without their substance; and by members of associations that invite “consumer advocates” to participate in order to create the impression of willingness to change. Some ways to advance the interests of parents in these situations, without being co-opted, are discussed. (BIRTH 10:3, Fall 1983)