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“Emerging norms and standards in transnational governing: ethics and imaginaries of reproductive technologies in Europe”

Allgemeine Informationen
  • Bearbeiterin: Ronja Maria Schütz, Politikwissenschaftlerin, Exzellenzcluster TU Darmstadt
  • Institut / Universität: TU Darmstadt, Institut für Politikwissenschaften
  • Erst- und Zweitbetreuer*innen: Prof. Dr. Jens Steffek

  • Art des Qualifikationsprojekts: Promotion



My PhD project is concerned with the political discourse on artificial reproductive technologies (ART) and cross-border reproductive care (CBRC) in the Europe. The fragmentation of regulations on ART among the European Union member states creates a legally uncertain situation for intending parents visiting fertility clinics abroad. Still, more and more people use the services of fertility clinics at European fertility hubs like Spain or the Czech Republic or in non-EU member states like Ukraine. This lack of legal harmonization or supranational political discussion invites to questions such as: how and which transnational standards are developing without official regulations? Who are the stakeholders invested in that development? Informed by these questions, my research will consist of a discourse analysis of different political stakeholders advocating and lobbying within the field of ART and CBRC in Europe and a mapping of conflicting imaginaries of access and rights concerning reproductive technologies in Europe. For that purpose I will use the notion of sociotechnical imaginaries coined by Sheila Jasanoff and analyze what kind of narratives are built by discursive means around new technologies. 

As a norm setting actor the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) stands out, advocating policies, drawing up guidelines and bioethical standards for reproductive clinics within the European Union as well as in countries bordering the EU. The main part of this project will therefore be centering on ESHRE’s work. As a counterpart, the discourse analysis will include other non-governmental organizations (e.g. patient organizations focusing on infertility) and carve out which actors in the sector of ART have a voice in influencing future policies and which remain invisible.

Furthermore, the project aims at understanding the generation of knowledge concerning bioethical standards, their normative foundations and diffusion throughout Europe. One of the trajectories relevant to this development are transnationally operating hospital chains implementing particular bioethical standards of care and spreading them through different regulatory spaces. As many of those standards are drawing on guidelines provided by ESHRE a second part of this project will be concerned with the function of ESHRE as a multiplier of knowledge and training thereby making a contribution to the political sociology of organizational learning.