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Date of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Department

Social Work

Supervisor

Rachel Zhou

Co-Supervisor

Christina Sinding

Language

English

Committee Member

James Gladstone

Abstract

Surrogacy is an emerging phenomenon in Canada, facilitated by societal changes and advances in reproductive technologies. Although surrogacy offers individuals an alternative form of family creation, it is rife with issues of inequality and social injustice based on gender, class, age, sexuality and geographical location. These social justice issues are evident in surrogacy discourses, which have influenced public perception on surrogacy and particularly in relation to women and their role as mothers. This exploratory research will examine these discourses and their representations of women and motherhood through a critical discourse analysis combined with a theoretical framework drawing upon post-structural feminist, social constructionist and social justice theories.

Surrogacy discourses have been influenced by patriarchal notions of women and motherhood which evolved during time from focusing on issues of paternity, to women’s rights, to children’s bests interests and finally to family interests. Although the rhetoric surrounding surrogacy has changed, the discourses have always contained oppressive norms concerning women and their bodies. With the rise of global markets and capitalism, these oppressive discourses have taken on global implications for families involved in surrogacy arrangements. These implications beckon the attention of the field of social work on various individual, institutional, structural and global levels through program development, research and advocacy. This research will highlight these implications and will explore recommendations for the social work field in the hopes of providing avenues for social workers to act as agents of social change.

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