Manuscripts available upon request
Numericalization: The Classed Discourse and Meaning of Price at Three Fertility Clinics
This article manuscript compares how providers and patients communicate about money at the three fertility clinics I observed. I find that that social class of the clinics shape the way that providers and patients talk about money and the morality tied to that discourse. This work contributes to economic sociology by documenting differences in transparency about the specific ‘dollars and cents’ of money by social class.
Disentangling Pregnancy and Fertility Intentions: Personal Uncertainty, Risk Behavior, and Patterned Flexibility
The demography literature tends to treat pregnancy and fertility intentions as corresponding concepts. Collapsing the two, however, can obscure important differences between the desired number of pregnancies and children. The present study leverages the critical case of multiples related to fertility treatment to disentangle pregnancy and fertility intentions. This study finds that most people pursuing fertility treatment express consistent pregnancy intentions but modify their fertility intentions regarding the number and spacing of children resulting from that pregnancy as they progress through treatment, namely transitioning from specific numerical and spacing preferences to bounded preferences for some number of children. Most participants came to accept a twin birth outcome due to uncertainty in their ability to become pregnant, pay for additional treatment, and remain in a romantic relationship. These findings underline that flexible fertility desires are patterned for those facing uncertain conditions. This article prompts family demographers to consider the risk behavior among people hoping to promote, not just prevent, pregnancy.
Field Guides: How Physicians Establish Medical Niches in Patient Consults
Sociological scholarship on fields focuses on how social actors frame their action in relation to others in the field. What has not been well-theorized is how actors narrate field dynamics to those who are not yet embedded in them. This is important because in many fields, particularly those in which distinctions between entities are not obvious to actors outside the field, recruitment of new actors is facilitated by mapping out the confines of the field. In this paper I introduce the concept of field guides, or organizational actors who orient unfamiliar consumers to the field to illustrate their organization’s status within it and emphasize the goods in which they rank high. This paper illustrates this argument through the strategic case of fertility clinics, a consumer medical field in which patient-consumers often struggle to perceive differences in quality of care. I show how fertility providers make organization-organization and organization-field comparisons to patient-consumers to illustrate their clinic’s position in the field as part of securing their business, and how these comparisons differ depending on if the organization is an incumbent or challenger in the field. The concept of field guides is a novel approach for bringing together interactional and field approaches, and underlines the importance of social learning through explicit guidance rather than unmitigated experience.