How are reproductive technologies also social technologies? A comparative study of NRT use in the USA and Egypt


  • Hannah Marshall University of Cambridge



The wealth of insightful ethnographic research on NRT use in individual countries invites a comparative approach, focused on delineating the extent of NRTs' overarching and transcultural impacts on three key concepts: reproduction, kinship, and gender. In this paper, I compare and contrast the impact of NRTs on these key concepts in the sociocultural contexts of Egypt and the USA. My attempts to further delineate cross-cultural trends in the impacts of NRT use will draw together insights into NRTs' impact upon inequalities and reproductive rights, the 'ideal' of biological kinship, the nature culture divide, and experiences of bioavailability.

In order to further define the overarching cross-cultural impacts of NRTs, I will consider NRTs' roles as 'social technologies'. I will present NRTs as social technologies in two senses. Firstly, as entities that can either disrupt or reinforce pre-existing sociocultural frameworks; and secondly as technologies that work in combination with cultural context to produce local variations within overarching trends. By way of conclusion, I will consider how the medical sociology community can further synthesise existing ethnographic and theoretical work, to build a fuller picture of the global impacts of NRTs. 


Keywords: IVF, infertility, gender, new reproductive technologies, and comparative.