In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section New Reproductive Technologies and Assisted Conception

  • Introduction
  • Book Series
  • Reviews
  • Collections
  • Early Works
  • Kinship Theory
  • Social Inequality
  • ART in Non-Western Countries
  • Economy and Policy
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Eugenics
  • Sex Selection
  • Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis
  • Embryo Politics
  • Human Embryonic Stem Cell (hESC) Research in Christian Western Countries
  • hESC in Non-Western Cultures
  • Third Party Reproduction
  • Egg Donation
  • Sperm Donation
  • Surrogacy
  • The Desire for Children and the “Biological Clock”
  • Globalization and Cross-Border Reproductive Care

Childhood Studies New Reproductive Technologies and Assisted Conception
Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli, Yael Hashiloni-Dolev
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 August 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0148


Infertility affects roughly 10–15 percent of reproductive-age couples worldwide. In the United States, about a third of these individuals and couples seek medical assistance. Only 1 percent resort to any form of assisted reproduction technology (ART) and a mere quarter of all in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles result in a live birth. Nonetheless, since their appearance, ARTs have drawn much public attention as well as scholarly attention in the social sciences. The interest has greatly intensified since 1978 when the world’s first “test-tube” baby was born via IVF. IVF and the myriad of treatment options that branched out of this technology touch upon key cultural issues. These include foundational human phenomena like kinship, gender, parenthood, the body, nature, or life. As such, ART has called into question hitherto taken-for-granted cultural concepts as well as brought to the surface constructed elements that are embedded in the accepted definitions. This destabilization underlies the intense scholarly interest in ART across the social sciences and the humanities. Beyond this impact, ARTs provide a window to the relationship between science and society. Science and technology scholars believe technologies to be sociotechnical products, which are shaped by human and nonhuman factors, by technical features, as well as by the political, cultural, economic, and moral contexts in which they unfold. This assumption implies that technologies are culturally embedded and deeply linked with power relations; if and when they are accepted by professionals and potential users depend on whether they are perceived as reasonable within a certain society. The accumulating body of research addresses the social significance and consequences of a broad range of reproductive technologies, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), donor insemination (DI), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), surrogacy, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), human embryonic stem cells (hESC), and fertility preservation (FP). These topics, in their respective turns, are closely related to major societal structures, like religion, class, race, science, as well as social equality and equity. Reproductive technologies also shed light on local particularities as well as on broader, global power structures and hierarchies. In this respect, ARTs serve as a rich vantage point to contemporary social, economic, and political processes. Within the field of ART, the ensuing list focuses, by and large, on assisted conception. Greater emphasis is placed on recent publications, though numerous older studies, which have retained their relevance, are included in this article. Likewise, some publications—which are not strictly anthropological but that seemed to have a substantial contribution, e.g., policy studies, ethical discussions, or key economic analyses—were included in the list.

Professional Journals

Papers discussing reproductive technologies and assisted conception are mainly published in three types of academic journals, originating in medical sciences, social sciences, or medical ethics.

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