‘We are no second-rate quality citizens’. Negotiating ‘biological’ citizenship in social mobilizations around infertility issues and access to in vitro in Poland.

Field: Sociologi
Project leader: Elzbieta Korolczuk
Starting year: 2012
Project type: Project

The project focuses on the social mobilizations concerning infertility and in vitro in Poland during the last decade. The main goal is to examine the concept of ‘biological’ citizenship, which is defined as a right to have an access to state support based on medical and legal criteria that recognize (in)capabilities of the body (Rose and Novas 2005, Petryna 2004). I will analyze how ‘biological’ citizenship is constructed, lived (Lister 2003) and contested within a specific social, political and cultural context.

More specifically, the project will answer:
• how the state and the Polish Catholic Church construct public discourses on infertility “making up citizens from above” (Rose and Novas 2005),
• how the people experiencing infertility construct and negotiate their citizenship,
• under what conditions the category of ‘biological’ citizenship becomes the basis for collective action and how can it be integrated into existing research on social movements.

The ambition is to contribute to the growing body of research exploring the concept of ‘biological’ citizenship (Rose and Novas 2005, Kulawik 2009, Petryna 2004), but also to studies on social movements and mobilizations, especially to the analyses of parental movements as the right to have a biological child is framed here as the basis for mobilization.

The project encompasses the following analytical steps:
• the analysis of the institutional and legal framework concerning methods of assisted conception
• the analysis of the discursive framework on in vitro and infertility propagated by the Polish Catholic Church
• the interviews with the representatives of the organizations actively lobbying for legislation that would ensure in-vitro financing programs and with politicians involved in public debate on in vitro
• content analysis of the two most popular Polish internet forums concerned exclusively with infertility and methods of assisted conception

The aim is to examine the situation in Poland, where the political sphere is greatly influenced by the nationalist discourse, the free market and the Catholic Church (Graff 2008, Korolczuk in press). I presume however, that results would be applicable also in other social contexts of the Baltic Sea region, as in post-transitional countries the notion of citizenship seems to be especially unstable and contested (Gal and Kligman 2000, Petryna 2004).