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A stable environment: surrogacy and the good life in Scotland

Dow, Katharine (2009) A stable environment: surrogacy and the good life in Scotland. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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In this thesis I describe the claims that a group of people living in rural Scotland make about maternal surrogacy. For them, surrogacy is a topical issue that provokes speculative ethical judgements. This is in a context in which they are building good lives, strongly informed by environmentalist �ethical living� and local wildlife conservation. I describe the kinds of ideas they employ and reproduce in discussing the ethics of surrogacy to capture the nuanced judgements that go into ethical claim-making. I argue that, in order to understand these people�s ideas about what is natural and what is moral, they should be considered along with their more ordinary ideas and practices. I describe how some of the same concepts they use to talk about surrogacy figure in their conceptions of goodness and what makes a good life, in order to both contextualise and extend their ideas about the ethics of surrogacy. Through ethnography of their everyday lives, I show the importance of effort and care in the making of relationships with other people, animals and the land and in fashioning an ethical subjectivity. I analyse the connections between nature, kinship and ethics in lives that are structured by efforts to protect the natural world, feel closer to other people and experience a fulfilling life. I examine the importance of choice and money in enabling these lives and raise questions about the location and status of transcendent values in contemporary Britain. I discuss the temporal orientation of these people in relation to the influence of environmentalist ideas of impending ecological crisis and consider how this links with their ideas about how to live in the present as well as how these connect up with their ideas about parenthood and kinship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2009 Katharine Dow
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Supervisor: Cannell, Fenella and Franklin, Sarah

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