Sociology seminar - Being Available: Relational Agency and Kinship Time in the Narratives of Egg and Sperm Donors (Leah Gilman)
|Starts:||14:00 5 Feb 2020|
|Ends:||15:00 5 Feb 2020|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Social Sciences|
|Who is it for:||University staff, External researchers, Current University students|
|Speaker:||Dr Leah Gilman|
Please join us for the first Sociology Departmental Seminar of the semester. All are welcome.
Historically, the connections created through donor conception have often been managed through practices of secrecy and anonymity (Haimes and Daniels 1998). In 1980s Britain, for example, records were routinely destroyed, parents rarely told their children they were donor-conceived and donors were discouraged from thinking about the reproductive potential of their donations (Speirs 2008). Today, in contrast, UK donors are expected to ‘be available’ to their donor offspring who, it is widely suggested, have ‘a right to know’ the identity of their donor (Klotz 2014).
Drawing on in-depth interviews with UK donors and their relatives, this paper explores how donors negotiate relationships with their recipient families under this new ethic of openness. I show that donors fulfil their concurrent duties to ‘be available’ and also ‘know their place’ as non-parents, by adopting (or attempting to adopt) a neutral position in relation to their donor offspring. Donors emphasised the morality of passive practices and letting others lead the character of any connection. In doing so, I suggest that donors were engaging in complex negotiations of relational agency which involved attention to the temporality of family practices and kin-making; they presented themselves as ‘handing over’ power to recipients and donor offspring to shape the character of their connections to one another. However, as I will argue, to assign agency over a relationship is also a form of interaction which inevitably shapes that connection. In life, as in research, there is no ‘neutral position’. For this reason, donors’ plans to ‘let them decide’ sometimes encountered challenges in the translation from ideology to practice
Dr Leah Gilman
Organisation: University of Manchester
Travel and Contact Information
Boardroom (2nd floor)
Arthur Lewis Building