An earlier version of this paper was read at the Computer/Human Interaction Conference in San Francisco, April 17, 1985. Fieldwork in Mexico, Europe, and the United States was supported by grant #HD MH 11575 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
The Hut and the Hospital: Information, Power, and Symbolism in the Artifacts of Birth
Article first published online: 31 MAR 2007
Volume 14, Issue 1, pages 36–40, March 1987
How to Cite
Jordan, B. (1987), The Hut and the Hospital: Information, Power, and Symbolism in the Artifacts of Birth. Birth, 14: 36–40. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-536X.1987.tb01446.x
Many of the ideas expressed in this paper stem from discussions and correspondence with colleagues. In particular, I want to thank Carole Browner, Robert Hahn, Willett Kempton, Ann Millard, Steven Nachman, Madeleine Shearer, and Lucy Suchman for their contributions.
- Issue published online: 31 MAR 2007
- Article first published online: 31 MAR 2007
ABSTRACT: As the tools of birth change from familiar household objects, such as hammocks and beds, to high-technology objects, such as delivery tables and fetal monitors, significant changes occur in the ability to give physical support to women during labor and in who owns the tools and the information they provide. Data derived from the laboring woman herself are less sought after and less valued.
Ironically, high-technology procedures and artifacts are more easily transported than are the household artifacts of birth, which are embedded in the matrix of daily life. When different levels of technology are available, the solution to a problem during childbirth is usually sought on the next higher level of technology–i.e., medication or surgery, even when a simpler approach, such as human comforting or ambulation, might work more quickly and effectively.