The governmentality of teenage pregnancy : scientific literature and professional practice in South Africa.
Teenage pregnancy is seen, on the whole, by researchers and service providers as a social problem. Various theoretical approaches have been utilised in the attempt to explain teenage pregnancy, and to find 'solutions' to the problem. What is common to these approaches is the assumption of the reality of teenage pregnancy, and the legitimation of the intervention of the expert. This thesis is concerned with these fundamental premises of the scientific literature and professional practice with regard to young women, their sexuality and reproductive behaviour. A feminist post-structuralist approach, which draws on the insights of Derrida concerning the absent trace and Foucault's analytics of power and governmentality, is taken. The tensions and commonalities between feminism and a Foucauldian approach are explored, and a radically plural post-structural feminism is explicated. The data used in this study consisted of South African scientific literature on teenage pregnancy (the technologies of representation), and transcriptions of interviews with service providers at a regional hospital (the technologies of intervention). The bulk ofthe thesis is taken up with analysis of the first of these. The aims of these chapters are to analyse how: (1) a range oftaken-for-granted assumptions or absent traces regarding, inter alia, the nature of adolescence, adolescent sexuality, mothering, and family formation and function underlie the scientific statements regarding the causes and consequences of teenage pregnancy; (2) the governmental tactics of medicalisation, psychologisation and pedagogisation are invoked in the literature with regard to teenage pregnancy; and (3) broader governmental tactics (the familialisation of alliance, the conjugalisation of reproduction, racialisation, the economisation of activity) are deployed in the literature to achieve particular gendering, racialising and class-based effects. The section on the technologies of intervention analyses how the governmental tactics described above are installed in the everyday lives of teenagers and their families through the deployment of the mechanisms of security at the interface between the service provider and the teenager or her parents. Finally, the undermining of the assumption of the reality of teenage pregnancy, the link between expertise and government, and the efficacy of the feminist post-structural approach are reviewed.