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Anne Murcott

The social construction of teenage

pregnancy: a prohlem in the
ideologies of childhood and
Abstract There is a commonsense assumption that 'teenage pregnancy' constitutes
some sort of a social problem. A neglected aspect of this social con-
struction is explored. It is suggested that ideologies of reproduction go
only so far in convincingly accounting for ambiguities contained in
social constructions of teenage pregnancy and that appreciation of con-
temporary ideologies of childhood is also needed. Expressions of teen-
age pregnancy as a problem may then be understood as a matter of
social pollution, located at the intersection of ideologies of reproduc-
tion on one hand and ideologies of childhood on the other.
A commonsense check-list of social problems might well include teen-
age pregnancy. An assumption that it constitutes a problem makes a
certain sense. For, however vaguely, it conjures up various improprieties,
a number of difficulties and the making of special arrangements. This
paper presents reflections on commonsense understanding surrounding
the expression of teenage pregnancy as a problem. In the process, the
well-established analytic position that essentially social problems are
construed as such only by the existence of the very rule that they
break is taken as axiomatic.^
In particular, attention is paid to a hitherto neglected aspect of the
social construction of teenage pregnancy. This involves discussion of
the ideological framework on which commonsense understandings
depend. In this connection it is pertinent to note the observation that
ideology provides
a pervasive world view that structures the taken-for-granted assumptions about
social relationships, and moulds beliefs and behaviour.^
Regard for the nature of the ideologies circumscribing human repro-
ductive behaviour will clearly go some way towards an understanding of
Sociology of Health and Illness Vol. 2 No. 1 1980
R.K.P. 1980 0141-9889/80/0201-001 $1.50/1
2 Murcott
the construction of teenage pregnancy as a social problem. But to rely
on this alone is to overlook a significant and separate ideological sphere.
It can be seen that a certain ambiguity suffuses the social construc-
tion of teenage pregnancy. There is an implication that one sort of
commonsense view of the issue as a problem involves invocation of
ascendant reproductive ideologies;"* it may constitute some sort of a
problem simply by being pre-marital. While this, of course, is a likely
element in the construction, it is neither the only one, nor, it will be
suggested, is it key. Anticipating the argument, the proposal here is that
there is something quite distinctive in the manner in which teenage
pregnancy is construed.
Teenage pregnancy may in all probability entail an illegitimate preg-
nancy. But it does so primarily because as a teenager a girl may not
(legally) be entitled to entertain a legitimate pregnancy. Teenage preg-
nancy is perhaps a special instance of illegitimacy in which questions of
legitimacy have as much to do with the allowability of conception in
the first place, as it has to do with the marital status of the woman
concerned. In other words, a question of age is raised.
Central to understanding the ambiguity surrounding teenage preg-
nancy and the cornerstone of this paper is an appreciation of
contemporary ideologies of childhood. Once appreciated, then it can be
seen that an expression of teenage pregnancy as a problem is located at
the intersection of ideologies of reproduction on the one hand, and
ideologies of childhood on the other.
It is perhaps necessary at this early stage to clarify one particular
point. A sociology that accounts social problems as created by the rules
they break is not so flippant as to disregard the reality of the conse-
quences of deviance. To regard deviance as in the eye of the beholder is
not to be so unsociological as to deny the felt problems of controlling
and welfare agencies, any more than it is to consign expressions of
suffering merely to existence 'all in the mind' of the deviant. Illegitimacy
may well emerge as a problem via the extant ideologies governing sex
and marriage, but the ensuing stigma is thereby no less painful and the
practical problems no less severe. In its turn, teenage pregnancy may
well entail a range of desperately trying circumstances. The exposition
here, however, comments not at all on the practicalities as such of
welfare or medical problems that teenage pregnancy poses. What is
explored is, rather, over and above such problems, focussing instead
of the ideological level on what uniquely teenage pregnancy con-
What follows is divided into two parts. Far greater attention is
devoted to exposition of childhood ideologies than to reproductive
ideologies, for the latter have already received suitable attention.*
The social construction of teenage pregnancy 3
Besides, the thrust of the argument in this paper depends on an appreci-
ation of the former. The first part works towards this and concludes by
arguing that in vital respects teenage pregnancy represents a version of
social pollution. In the light of this proposal, the second part resumes
closer attention to the social construction of the issue considering
various aspects of its public expression as a problem.
Troublesome children
Children neglected
There is an essential paradox to ideology. This derives from its taken-
for-granted character. Fither it is so pervasive that it is readily apparent.
Or it is so pervasive that by this very token it is rendered invisible. A
nicety of this irony is that ideologies of childhood can just as well be
exposed in reflexive consideration of the treatment of children in socio-
logy itself. The suggestion is, unremarkably, that the extent to which
and manner whereby children are attended to by sociology is in impor-
tant part formed by the nature of contemporary ideologies of childhood.
The contours of ideologies of childhood can be revealed by examining
this suggestion in some detail.
For a start it seems that sociology has largely overlooked childhood
and children. In the social scientific division of labour, children have
most often been left to psychology, education, social work and policy
studies. In sociology children figure rudimentarily. They appear
woodenly, as the units moving through the education system in dis-
cussions of social mobility or minimally, as elements in introductory
teaching of 'sociahzation'. Even a book actually called Childhood: a
Sociological Perspective still turns out to be about socialization. Its
opening sentence leaves no doubt:
This book is concerned with socialization, the process of learning the behaviour
patterns that enable people to interact meaningfully.*
Mostly children appear as mere beings to be socialized; pre-social; not
yet competent; pre-rational; empty vessels yet to be filled.
When concemed with the nature of social order, sociology takes
more notice of children. In the Parsonian social system two potential
sources of disruption threaten.'' One is the deviant, the other the in-
completely socialized young; those who break the rules and those who
have yet fully to learn the mles. Alternatively discussing an interactionist
stance to 'taking the world for granted', Sharrock points out that
people do recognise that the world cannot always be so taken: he adds
4 Murcott
Thus, although we may assert that 'anyone' ought to be able to see certain things
because they are obvious, we nevertheless exclude children and strangers from
the category 'anyone', and treat them with special patience and tolerance
because we classify them as people who have not yet learned how to see the
world in the way we see it. . . ,^
Goffman commented some while ago on people's lively awareness of
the perils of admitting children to secrets before they have learned to
appreciate the significance of teamwork in managing coherent perform-
ances.' He also notes that children do have 'some licence to commit
gauche acts without requiring the audience to take the expressive
implications of these acts too seriously', in that to a degree 'children
are defined as "non-persons".''" Not only are children socially non-
competent, they are also socially not visible. Socially - but also socio-
logically they have not been seen."
Some sociological quarters however, reveal noteworthy and interest-
ing exceptions. Bossard and Boll's classic has achieved four editions in
which a programme for an interpretive sociology of childhood is mapped
out.'^ It is a sophisticated work, insisting that history is essential to an
understanding of childhood and emphasising the significance of ideo-
logy in determining child status. Yet theirs is a view in which children
remain as empty vessels, a view which treats socialization as a one-way
process to fill them up.
More recent work challenges such a position. Denzin launches a
devastating attack on sociologists for accepting unquestioningly theories
of children which are simply inaccurate.'^ Failure to enter the child's
world'" has meant failure to see that children are indeed social and
'rational'. Language is not an essential precursor to social competence;
rather social competence is a product of social interaction itself. That
language is deemed developed to a certain level of competence by the
age of seven, is irrelevant for the development of social competence in a
child interacting socially with others for the previous five or six years.' '
Granting fully blown, socially competent status to children allows
for the proposal that they possess their own distinct culture(s), distinct,
that is from adults'.'* This conceptualisation risks, however, a static
view of the world. At least, of itself, it does not provide for the study
of the relationship between the two (sets of) cultures in general or for
the study of the translation of someone from one to the other in
particular. What it does do, however, is give the world of children
legitimacy, making it worthy of serious sociological attention.
First, it provides for a revision of approaches to socialization. If
children are after all socially competent, and thus in this sense complete
rather than incomplete beings, then, socialization is to be seen in an
interactive view,'"' two way rather than one way.
The social construction of teenage pregnancy 5
A reciprocal interaction is soon struck between the child and the adult, such that
the adult bends as much to tlie child, as the child does to the adult.'*
Evidently, the imphcations do not rest with thinking about child social-
ization; the theoretical repercussions carry on through to work on
professional socialization." They also need to extend to explorations
of the impact of experiences such as those which surround becoming
pregnant as a teenager.^"
Second, it provides for the pursuit of the social:
The study of childhood socialization offers the most strategic setting for un-
covering answers to the one question that nearly every social theory is ulti-
mately couched in terms of . . . 'Namely how is society possible?' (Simmel)
. . . it is here (in the child's world) in the daily interactions between children,
their parents, siblings and peers, that society is made real. It is here that society,
as the child comes to know it, first appears.^'
Harre is similarly concerned; in order for people to be able to engage in
rule governed action they must have achieved the social competence on
which such abilities are founded. He is drawn to the conclusion that
the origins of the kinds of social competence we find among adults is to be
looked for in a world we would like to call the autonomous pre-cursor world;
that is, the social world that children develop. .. .^^
He continues.
We are fairly surfi that the methods by which the playground world is managed
are identical with those by which the adult world is managed.^^
But by according the world of children equivalent theoretic status
with the world of adults he runs an analytic risk. Pushing the question
of adults he runs an analytic risk. Pushing the question of the genesis of
the social back a stage neither answers it nor makes it redundant. Treat-
ing the world of children as prior is naturally appropriate temporarily,
but is not to be confounded with priority explanatorily.
Thus, of course, the question remains on the agenda and cannot as
such be further pursued here. But its emergence in this context serves
to highlight a theme central to the present paper, namely, that con-
siderations of children tends, one way or another, to occur in close
association with consideration of order. Discussion of children, their
management and their behaviour is firmly and centrally located amidst
matters of morality and propriety. Exploring the problem of order, so-
called, sooner or later involves regard for styles of suitable induction of
new members and styles of suitable control of existing members of all
ages. And concem about and for children sooner or later hinges on their
part in societal orderliness, whether in the present or future. But to
6 Murcott
observe that 'children' and 'order' are thus bracketed is not to say that
the relationship is in any way simple or that it exists at only one level
of analysis. It is more likely than not that they are related in a fairly
intricate fashion. It is the keystone of the present discussion and main
concern of this paper to present an example, at the level of ideology, of
just such a relationship. But before doing so, further, more general con-
sideration of ideologies of childhood is necessary.
Part of the critique of conventional views of sociahzation involves
the charge that they incorporate and refiect dominant adult ideologies
of children. McKay leaves adult sociologists looking a little silly:
. . . under the auspices of current formulations of socialization, the conception
of children as essentially deficient vis-a-vis adults has, in practice, led to no
research into children qua children. Under the formulation of the world as a
process of socialization, children as a phenomenon disappear, and sociologists
reveal themselves as parents writing slightly abstract versions of their own or
other children.^''
In failing to treat the child's world as a distinct culture in its own right,
sociologists have been guilty of ethnocentrism.^^ Topic and resource
have been confused. The inferiority, relative powerlessness and invisi-
bility of children socially (like slaves, women, and blacks) has carried
over sociologically.
Adult/child: one thing or another
If this has led to no research into children as such, it has also led to
extremely sparse attention to the diversities of adult ideologies of
childhood. Childhood, of which in this sense adolescence is a variant,
is a relatively recent invention.^* If a mediaeval child survived past the
stage of needing the care of its mother or nurse, it straight away entered
the adult world. There was little point in pinning too much on the out-
come of a pregnancy when the chances were that the child (not to
mention the mother) might soon be dead. By the same token any scope
for the development of ideologies of the state of being a child was
severely limited.
While the variations in the content of ideologies of childhood since
then have been sketched^'' contemporary conceptions of children are
merely glimpsed. Snippets of empirical material tell us that children are
wonderful;^* that children are essential to married life;^' and that
if you have a little trouble with children that's forgotten, but the joy and
pleasure is never forgotten.^
The social construction of teenage pregnancy 7
Doctors view children as a special type of patient,^' and a common-
place of hospital life is the reputation of children's wards as specially
happy, specially poignant, and of paediatrics as specially satisfying a
Childhood becomes apparent as a special state, qualitatively differ-
ent. The equivalence of children to servants persists;^^ they are inferior,
lacking in full citizenship. In the past children have been sent as servants
to other households,^' consorted with servants, and been consigned to
their quarters and their care.'" Middle-class Edwardian parents demanded
respect from their children in the same way that they demanded
it from their servants.'^ The inferiority of children occurs in contem-
porary adult ideologies as a metaphor for inappropriate adult behaviour.
The inadequacies of social workers' clients are attributed to immaturity.
Oversight of doctor's work is unacceptable, for only children need
supervision whereas professionals are adult.'* And when the young
themselves are reproved for bad behaviour they are told to grow up and
not be so childish.
What emerges, then, is a collection of conceptions in which a particu-
lar feature is emphasised. The temporal and biological progress of child
to adult is glossed over, and what is continually stressed is an essential
difference between children and adults. To be a child is not so much to
be a potential adult, as it is to belong to a category quite apart. It is the
contrast not the continuity between childhood and adulthood which
receives continual emphasis.''' And it is this then that is part of the
ideological context in which to understand the social construction of
teenage pregnancy.
Girls in trouble
For in a sense, teenage pregnancy constitutes a problem precisely
because it expresses an ambiguity not catered for in the sharp con-
ceptual contrast. It is a contradiction in terms'* and carries overtones
of a nineteenth century horror of precocity." Child and adult are
mutually exclusively conceptuahsed. It is impossible simultaneously to
be adult and child. What is more, it is adults who bear and beget children;
a child cannot beget or bear a child. Yet that is precisely what a preg-
nant teenager is about to do. Teenage pregnancy offends a morality
which can identify children only by separating them from adults.
On top of this, teenage pregnancy confronts a perennial issue in
childhood ideologies. This is the version of the familiar question about
human nature as to whether people are essentially savage to be tamed
in society, or whether they are intrinsically good and at risk of cor-
ruption.'**' Are children inherently good, wonderful, angelic, or are they
8 Murcott
monstrous, wicked and bad? Further research is obviously needed to
establish the contemporary focus which this question takes. But there is
a clear impression that, at a public level at least, the essential innocence
of children is in the ascendant. Children are more often characterized as
victims than offenders; and when caught doing wrong may be absolved
of responsibility by being designated victim of someone else's inadequate
care. The greatest opprobrium is reserved amongst prisoners not for
the murderer but for child 'molesters'."' Innocence connotes purity
and that version of non-knowing that is virginal."^ To be sexually
knowledgeable is to have lost innocence. A girl's pregnancy is proof of
her loss of innocence, and thereby raises doubts about her status as a
If these assumptions regarding the nature of contemporary dominant
ideologies of childhood are warranted, and an agitation engendered by
teenage pregnancy does indeed signify an affront to moral categories,
the whole issue moves into a discussion of social pollution. Teenage
pregnancy can be construed as two of Mary Douglas' four varieties of
such pollution. One is that danger arises 'in the margins of the lines',
the second is the
danger from internal contradiction, when some of the basic postulates are
derived by other basic postulates, so that at certain points the system seems to
be at war with itself."'
Adulthood constitutes the margin of childhood, and, likewise, child-
hood constitutes the margin of adulthood. This is a necessary corollary
of the definition of one state in terms of the negative of the other.
Challenging the boundary of each, teenage pregnancy takes on an
alarming aspect. Furthermore, teenage pregnancy stands at the inter-
section of two increasingly contradictory postulates. One is the observa-
tion of the falling age of menarche, the other the simultaneous exten-
sion of the statutory period of education. Biologically a child becomes
an adult earher and earlier, socially a child becomes an adult later^nd
later. Douglas later analyses 'examples of social structures which rest on
grave paradox or contradiction. In these cases exaggerated avoidances
develop around sexual relations.'"" The suggestion here is that the
particularities of the social construction of teenage pregnancy might
fmitfully be seen as expression of such exaggerated avoidance.
By reviewing features of the social construction of teenage pregnancy,
this proposal is explored in the second part of the paper.
Constructing teenage pregnanpy
At this point, the discussion doubles back on itself. At the outset it was
The social construction of teenage pregnancy 9
remarked that teenage pregnancy can, in an everyday sort of way,
readily be construed as one of a familiar catalogue of contemporary
social problems. But it was immediately suggested that although regard
for reproductive ideologies would lend support to this construction it is
in important ways insufficient. Attention is now turned to this part of
the argument.
A problem in the process of construction
As a precursor, there is a matter of identification to consider. Interest
in this paper revolves around the social construction of teenage preg-
nancy. To be able even to make such a statement assumes that the
focus of interest is already singled out. Yet it is the very identification
of a phenomenon which lies at the heart of exploration of its social
construction. To put it another way, that teenage pregnancy as such is
identified at all though not always formally defined (see below) is
itself a significant starting point."' It can only be so, with the assump-
tion that its designation is understandable, for whatever purpose,
without requiring further elucidation. What renders it understandable is
the persistence of an ideological framework which both constructs the
phenomenon and is in turn reinforced by that self same construction.
While it needs to be said that the actual designation teenage preg-
nancy, as such, perhaps relatively rarely occurs, reference is made
frequently enough to variants on the main theme."* What is notable
about these variants is that the phenomenon each discusses is left
effectively undefined. Logically, teenage pregnancy, or some allied
referent, may connote any of the following and more besides:
- an eighteen year old, married mother of a child aged thirteen
months who is 5 months pregnant
- a girl, three months pregnant, who is due to marry her boy-friend,
the father-to-be, on her sixteenth birthday in a fortnight's time
- a fourteen year old schoolgirl referred for a termination of her
The point need not be laboured; patently, each of these may be con-
strued as dramatically different types of event, amenable to markedly
differing attributions of meaning.
An examination of a number of different approaches to, and com-
mentaries on, teenage pregnancy reveals that specificity of this kind is
rare. Instead a distinct gestalt emerges which can accommodate im-
precise designation, ambiguity, and elision. Intentionally or otherwise, a
consequence is to play down doubts or queries, and the potential for an
overall encompassing image is fostered. Thus in their discussion of
10 Murcott
'social and behavioural development' the Court Report on child health
services lists adolescents' main problems. Here is included reference to
'casualties' such as 'unwanted pregnancies'. In the succeeding section,
entitled 'Pregnancy' the observation that
Sexual intercourse before marriage is quite common . . . substantial numbers of
young people are sexually active for several years before seeking advice on
is to be found. While the section after that, on 'Abortion' opens with
The majority of pregnant girls are very vulnerable."''
Unwanted pregnancy, and/or abortion in adolescents are explicitly stated
as constituting a problem. But it is by association that circumstances
discussed as leading to these events are also presented as part of the
A similar sort of confiation is to be found in a DHSS report on
family planning services. Even though its author is sensitive to the
problematic -- she writes of ' "unwanted" children'"* using quotation
marks - she also clearly identifies 'unwanted pregnancies'"' (without
quotation marks) as a problem. While at one level, she may be making
careful distinction between unwanted children and unwanted preg-
nancies, she reports that the DHSS was particularly concerned about
those likely to have unwanted children. Her researches identify those at
comparatively high risk as women 'marry(ing) under the age of twenty
(and) girls who conceive before marriage' who in any case tend to be
working class. Unwanted pregnancies, pre-marital conceptions and
married young are by implication being bundled together as a problem.
Earlier hesitation at the designation 'unwanted' gives way in the face of
correlations which pin-point the issues and shape more confidently the
look of those issues as problems.
A paper by Teper which 'examines recent demographic trends in
teenage pregnancy' provides further and subtle illustration.'"^ The
author does not 'need' to define teenage pregnancy in any formal sense,
for right at the beginning of her paper she clearly refers to births to
teenage girls and presents figures for girls 'aged less than 20 years at last
birthday' .' ' Here then, is a literal denotation of teenage pregnancy. But
as the paper proceeds - and with no explicit discussion a problematic
import of teenage pregnancy is introduced, and Teper concludes by
Earlier maturity, the unacceptability of abstinence from sexual intercourse for
many years.. . inaccessible contraceptives for the situation in which coitus may
occur raise new and complex issues for parents, teacher, doctors, administrators,
etc. - and, in fact, for society as a whole.^^ (my emphasis)
The social construction of teenage pregnancy 11
Her election to refer obliquely to 'complex issues' rather than
perhaps 'problems' may reflect an attempt to refrain from moral
judgements. Yet her own earlier handling of her argument has already
given form to the phenomenon, when she noted that fifteen to nine-
teen year old women have
contributed nearly 12% of all pregnancy events in the population. They
accounted in a disproportionately large way for the total number of pre-marital
conceptions and for illegimate births."
These kinds of treatment of the phenomenon express the social con-
struction of teenage pregnancy as a potential social problem. This is not
to say that such construction is not unequivocal or does not contain
ambiguities. Yet located in the pattem of presentation overall, these
can fade. What may emphasise the potential for overriding such prob-
lematics is the ideological context in which commentary is 'read' off.
By way of elaborating this point, it is perhaps helpful to rehearse
what is meant by reproductive ideologies. Busfield introduces the con-
ceptualisation by outlining beliefs which 'constitute the social reality in
which reproduction takes place.''" Dominant reproductive ideologies of
contemporary society link marriage and children firmly together; i.e.
'if you are married you should want to have children' and 'if you want
children you should ensure that you are married first.'
In this light, reference to pre-marital conception and/or to illegitimacy,
immediately signifies that the matter in hand is of a realm contrary to
dominant morahty, and thus belonging to a category of moral and
social problems. An overall effect is created by presentation of the issue
in the manner described in such a way as to make available a reading of
what is said which reflects and can be interpreted in accord with major
reproductive ideologies. In this way, Teper's comments just quoted are
couched in language used innocently enough, but in a context in which
depiction of the statistically normal (or abnormal) can readily slip over
into coincidence with the morally normal (or abnormal). It is not so
much that agenda are hidden, as that social, moral categories are those
to hand, those taken-for-granted and sensible as appropriate to use
when discussing demographic events. Demography is not a neutral
enterprise; inevitably it is socially located. Issues are identified as
worthy of focus prior to, and beyond demography. Teenage pregnancy,
as such, and thus identified as self-evidently meaningful a category
becomes so, because it already has significance socially. A paper des-
cribing demographic trends of teenage pregnancy need not deal at all
as Teper's initially does not in that kind of discussion that explicitly
identifies the phenomenon as a variety of social problem. It need not,
for the task is already done, located in the dominant ideologies which
12 Murcott
provide the benchmarks within which demographers and policy makers
can work, and identify the problems with which they may deal.
Ideologies surrounding reproduction, however, do not fully provide
the benchmarks for construing teenage pregnancy rather than, say, 23-
year-olds' pregnancies as worthy of concern. Association of teenage
pregnancy with other phenomena which reproductive ideologies create
as problems, goes only so far in accounting for its construction as a
problem. The main point here is that the phenomenon is construed as a
problem in the light, not only of ideologies of reproduction, but also of
childhood. The remainder of the discussion then is devoted to explora-
tion of the intersection of these two ideologies.
Construction skewed
Social construction of the issue as a potential problem contains more
than one element. It is not just that teenage pregnancy of itself poses
some sort of a problem. There is in addition, a problem in that the
incidence of teenage pregnancy is increasing." Commentary is provided
in the Consultative Document Prevention and Health: Everybody's
.. . what seems to have happened since 1968 is that there was an initial rise in
the total of recorded extra-marital conceptions at all ages, that this steadied off
after 1971, fell in young women of twenty and over but is still increasing in
school girls under sixteen (though the total involved is small in proportion to the
total number of school girls).'*
the enclosure of the last remark in parentheses is intriguing in the
light of what follows later in this section. While Court does not so much
profess direct concern about the increase as remark that
. . . in recent years, there has been growing concern about the number otpreg-
nancies occurring in young girls, particularly in those under sixteen year of
Teper's paper, to which reference has already been made, presents a
beguiling demographic analysis which addresses this aspect directly. Her
main contention is that the rate of teenage pregnancy is not only rising,
but that it effectively 'rose' by remaining relatively steady between
1968 and 1971, even though the number of girls in the relevant age
groups decreased. By the same token extrapolation to likely events in
the first half of the 1980s leads her to comment:
The teenagers of the next 15-20 years are already born and it is inevitable that
The social construction of teenage pregnancy 13
the number of young women at risk of teenage pregnancy in the next few years
will far outnumber those who have been at risk in the recent past.'*
Inevitably there is a lag; figures available to Court whose report was
published in 1976 only went up to 1974. More recently available dat a"
suggest for the first time since 1968 (when figures for legally terminated
pregnancies could become available) a downturn in the premarital
conception rate for those under sixteen as well.
The number of births to this group (the under sixteens) has been falling since
1974, but in 1976 abortions, too, began to drop.. .. First figures for 1977
suggest that the fall will continue.*'
The point here is not just to indicate difficulties and delays in availability
of up to date figures. Rather it is consideration of the process of con-
struction which is instructive. Not only does such consideration iden-
tify the style and content of what is said, it also permits awareness of
what is not said. Furthermore, construction of the issue in certain ways
allows for preclusion of its being constructed in others.
Amongst the number of things that might have been said about
teenage pregnancy, it is increase in its incidence which is remarked. The
question that arises is how it is that commentators concentrate on this
rather than on an opposite construction which registers astonishment
that the incidence is so small. By 1974, in England and Wales of the
order of 10,000 conceptions were to girls of sixteen and under.*' This
represents approximately 1,500 live births and 8,500 terminations. A
very different complexion can be put on these data if seen in the light
of two sets of factors so far not mentioned, in the commentaries con-
Douglas and his colleagues appear to be rare among commentators on
the issue. For they treat an increase in teenage pregnancies as underlin-
ing the known decline in age at menarche.*^ Expressing a similar form
of argument. Gill regards the increase in teenage pregnancies as a corol-
lary of the falling age at first marriage.*' Even while the reasons for the
falling ages of menarche and/or marriage remain unknown, if these
factors are taken together, an increase in the incidence of teenage preg-
nancy seems no more remarkable than the observation that the lower
end of the relevant distribution curves has shifted downwards to the
younger age groups. That the height of sexual powers,*" at least for
males, appears to coincide with the age at which a girl may legally have
sexual intercourse indeed the suggestion is that were the legal age
lower, so would be the age of maximum sexual activity may be
awkward, unfortunate or inconvenient, It also makes it very surprising
that the rate of teenage conceptions is not far greater.
There is a second set of factors that have, in only a limited way been
14 Murcott
mentioned. What is known of teenage sub-cultures, of adolescent
behaviour and of adolescent sexual behaviour in particular*' could well
leave us astonished that every third or so teenager is not pregnant.
Parker's work, in part of central Liverpool, indicates that indeed pre-
nuptial conceptions are the norm for that area. While the boys' deviant
activity did appear to alter as they got older, the attitude to sex and the
style of relationship with girls remained fairly similar from the age at
which interest in either first started. Their dropping out of group
activities in general and of stealing car radios in particular was a con-
sequence of, not a prelude to, going steady with and/or getting married
to their (pregnant) girl-friends.**
While Parker's work is illuminating on related issues of attitudes to
sex and marriage, stereotypes of 'good' and 'bad' girls and so on, it was
not designed to consider adolescent sexual activity. Indeed, the literature
on youth in contemporary society is notable for concentrating on the
more unusual or flamboyant forms of deviant behaviour where youth-
ful sexual behaviour is dealt with inter alia.^'^ The corollary of this
concentration on especially disadvantaged groups, is the provision of
very little evidence about the life-style and attitudes of 'i-espectable'
working class youth and virtually nothing about suburban/middle class
teenagers. Yet Gill points out that 'illegitimacy and pre-nuptial concep-
tions . . . have increased fastest in recent years among women from the
upper end of the social class continuum.'**
Perhaps most significant of all in the present context, is the almost
total neglect of the contemporary culture and life styles of girls.*' With
a single exception''" we still have to rely on the now dated work of
Jephcott,'" which while portraying well the general adult aspirations of
girls towards marriage and domesticity deals virtually not at all with the
sexual attitudes, knowledge and behaviour while teenagers. Yet this
must of course be the sphere to which we look for explanation of the
relatively low incidence of adolescent pregnancy.
Standing as a critique of proponents of a 'generation gap' MxiTtgham's
essay on the contemporary mass dance reveals youth reproducing their
parents' lives, demonstrating 'a continuity with the world of their
parents' generation.' He provides a compelling picture of Saturday night
as the high spot of alienated youth' s week:
Youth in pursuit of itself turns the dance into a convention of courtship, dating
and sexual bargaining. The mass dance is electric with it, and we can measure
the obsession through the amount of time given over to preparing for the dance,
the peculiar drama and tension in the dance-hall which is ubiquitous.''
The agendum of the occasion is barely hidden, leaving onlookers t o
wonder again t hat the incidence of teenage pregnancy is so low.
The social construction of teenage pregnancy 15
The point is, of course, that the prevailing ideologies of childhood
cannot cater for those who are neither adult nor child yet at the same
time are both adult and child. Not only have such ideologies led socio-
logical attention to focus only on youth's behaviour in respect of
matters of order. It also means that conceptual space for teenagers is
decidedly cramped. Court is interesting in this respect, for attempts are
made to allow that young people may legitimately enjoy a measure of
autonomy. Not only are they inclined to behave in a 'different' way,
'sex before marriage is common' (see quotation above) but Court
goes on to make allowance for the possibility that sexually active young
people do not use contraception not only from fear or ignorance but
also from choice. So when discussing counselling services, recommenda-
tion is made that such services 'take account of the adolescent's desire
to do his (sic) own thing'. For counselling to be successful. Court adds,
recognition is needed that 'for some young people sex is an activity
undertaken in its own right and and not in the context of family life or
preparation for parenthood' ."
The tentative air of Court's commentary contributes to the suggestion
that of itself, teenage is a morally problematic category for which
appropriate behaviour is not clearly spelled out. What is more clearly
available is the view that teenage is important as some sort of a staging
post in the construction of appropriate and orderly adult behaviour,
and as such is located firmly on the child side of the child/adult divide.
This, and the implications for the social construction of teenage preg-
nancy, is explored in the next section.
Professionalised construction
That teenage pregnancy is constmed as a problem on the increase is
endorsed by a consideration of the kind of perspectives routinely
employed when looking at each of children,''" human reproduction and
welfare problems. It is common to each of these three that their social
construction has evolved in such a way as to place them within the
orbit of the professionally expert. The sorts of experts involved range,
of course, from social workers to school counsellors, and doctors to
probation officers.
Common, in tum, to the various activities of these professionals is a
view of events which sees 'Time 2' not merely as subsequent to, but
also consequent on 'Time 1'. Medical activities of diagnosis and thera-
peutics, prognosis and prevention enshrine and foster this style of
thinking. That childhood as well as human reproduction is subject to
'medicalisation' will be pursued below. For the moment it is important
16 Murcott
to note that, in tum, a medical view, resonates with a psychological
view in which the development of adult personality is seen as par excel-
lence a product of earlier experiences. This is the very perspective
which pervades so much of social work and administration studies, and
underpins what is professionalised in policy making. The resonance
continues and is revived daily in policy work. Policy makers are charged
with doing rather than reflecting. What is done now, is done in the
name of providing for what happens in future, based on a diagnosis of
events in the past.
This orientation is lent additional emphasis in dominant orientations
to childhood. Not only is concern for a child's welfare expressed in
part in terms of the consequences for her or his future well-being, this is
also reinforced by the firm location of childhood in the domain or
morality and societal order discussed earlier. A child's present and
future welfare, then, is also that of 'society's' welfare. This can be
illustrated by further examination of the emphasis on and concem
about an increase in the incidence of teenage pregnancy.
The problems presented to the policy makers by pregnant teenagers
are seen not as simple but compound. There is a readiness to think of
those already once extra-niaritally pregnant as some kind of continuing
social (and/or medical) casualty. Late presentation for ante-natal care
associated with illegitimate teenage pregnancy may involve (unspecified)
medical and social difficulties for mother and child later.^' The theoreti-
cal implications of the tone in which Bone discusses family planning
services needed to deal with 'the problem' of unwanted pregnancies
provides another example. (Those she identifies as at risk have been
referred to above);
Preventive work is directed towards those at risk . . . the implications of all the
evidence is that the services should concentrate on the wives of manual workers
in general, and on the ones amongst them who marry early or conceive before
marriage in particular. Indeed to be most effective they must seek* to arrest
premarital conceptions... .'*
Versions of this theme of developing, compounded problems appear in
discussions of sex education: if adequate morals and appropriate atti-
tudes are inculcated in adolescents then a variety of later problems are
arrested, and the very fabric of society remains intact. So runs the
argument in the section on 'Moral Aspects of Health Education' in a
pamphlet published by a Government Department (of Education and
Science) and currently available.''''
It should be made clear to (young people) that an attitude which treats the
sexual act as trivial weakens society . . . by indulging in promiscuous sexual
The spcial construction of teenage pregnancy 17
experiences, and thus to fail to associate affection and sexual desires, is to invite
disaster in later sex-life.
The developmental view remains; inexorably yesterday influences
today and both affect tomorrow. Dominant ideologies of childhood
stress a view of socialization as a one-way process lending immense
potency to the presumption that early experiences 'fix' later pattems.
Reinforcement of these sorts of considerations is provided by the
possibilities for a 'medicalised''" construction of teenage pregnancy.
That a range of human reproductive activity is increasingly subject to
revised construction as a medical matter is a familiar proposal. Any
phenomenon which can be shown to have some sort of biological basis
can be regarded as available for incorporation into the province of
medicine.*" Whilst a trend towards the 'medicalisation' of reproductive
activity is not unequivocal*' and contains dilemmas and debates,*^
teenage pregnancy may readily enough be seen as an example of this
more generally 'medicalised' sphere.
There is, however, more than that involved. The youth of the preg-
nant woman makes for more than just a special case of pregnancy. It
means that special features may be introduced which are associated
with the young, no matter what the case. Court reports on health
services for children, and yet it is this report in which teenage preg-
nancy finds a place in a catalogue of other than medical problems.
Court is quite clear:
The adolescent's main problems are not those of ill-health but of emotional
adjustment to the adult world, particularly with regard to education and work,
sex and integration into the community as an individual.... That there are
casualties is shown by the prevalence in adolescence of psychiatric disorder, un-
wanted pregnancies, abortions, sexually transmitted diseases and drug and
alcohol abuse."^
'Medicalisation' is hinted at, too, in the metaphorical use of 'casualties'
terminology that obliquely serves to keep discussion in a medical
arena. 'Medicalisation' of human reproduction may well already be on
the agenda, but the case of teenage pregnancy illustrates its inter-
section with the potential for an extension of 'medicalisation' to child-
Furthermore a parallel can be detected between the uncertainties of
'medicalisation' of these two spheres. Lay and professional perspectives
contain irresolution as to whether pregnancy is to be regarded as 'nor-
mal' or an 'illness'.** Childhood can be seen subject to similar irresolu-
tion. On the one hand it is regarded as a natural development capable of
proceeding without medical oversight; on the other it may be regarded
as inherently frail and potentially sickly, thereby demanding special
18 Murcott
medical attention. That the enterprise is perilous and unstable is well
demonstrated by Davis and Strong who reveal the repertoire of tech-
niques for normalising a population cast in doubt by the very act of
screening.*' In another form, the line between disease and misbehaviour
is viewed as ill defined; hyperkinesis as the medicalisation of naughti-
ness has not gone unchallenged.**
The potential for the 'medicalisation' of childhood in an important
sense is also the 'medicalisation' of the whole of society. The eugenic
loop of argument that traces one generation's problems simultaneously
backwards and forwards via the state of the pregnant mother and the
quality of ante-natal care she receives, is a telling example of a prime
concem for national health.*'' A desire for a nation to be fit and healthy
focusses and refocusses on the quality of its offspring. A society con-
cemed to be prosperous is concemed with its health and its fitness,
and for its future. Its future lies in its children who must be physically
fit and otherwise prepared as heirs to what has already been achieved,
and champions of what is yet to be achieved. Resonant of the White
House Childrens Charter of 1930,** how apt to find that the formal
title 'Fit for the Future'of the Court Report celebrates just this concem.
Teenage pregnancy symbolises the intersection of a range of potent
and mutually reinforcing orientations. Medicine and other professional-
ised activities rely on a developmental view. Teenage pregnancy enters
the medical and welfare sphere in three ways; first as an example of
human activity already under medical aegis, second by being socially
constructed as a variety of social and welfare problem, and third as an
ambiguous example of childhood, itself equivocally professionalised.
So it receives attention out of proportion to its incidence, for it repre-
sents practical expression of that which ideologically, so to speak,
cannot exist.
Concluding remarks
It remains here only to sum up. This can be done, providing a fresh
statement of the import of this paper in briefly recounting the natural
history of its evolution.
The initial impetus for developing the argument presented here
derived from being puzzled less that teenage pregnancy is largely con-
strued as a social problem but rather that construction is skewed in the
way described. It was this sort of concem with the size of the problem
that hinted at potential for a moral panic. Examination of literature on
teenage pregnancy, illegitimacy etc. in particular, and reproductive
behaviour more generally, provided insufficient account as to what
might give rise to this potential.
The social construction of teenage pregnancy 19
So the research had to take place beyond the boundaries of identifi-
cation of the issue itself both literally in turning to other sectors of
the literature, and analytically in recognising the import of more than
one ideological framework. Thence the proposal emerged that urgent
preoccupation with the increase in the size of the problem may occur
because, quite simply, the under-age pregnant are children. So the sugges-
tion is that the social construction of teenage pregnancy is informed by,
and at the same time reflects, attention bom of contradiction where an
orderly view of the world comes under threat, and a world more sullied
than ordered is glimpsed.
First Received: July 1979 Department of Sociology
Finally accepted: September 1979 University College, Cardiff
1. This paper is a revised and re-written version of 'It's a Nine Days' Wonder':
teenage pregnancy, a problem in the process of Construction which was given
at the BSA Medical Sociology Group Annual Conference at Warwick Univer-
sity, September 1977. Acknowledgements are due to colleagues in both the
Department of Sociology, and in the David Owen Centre for Population
Growth Studies, University College, Cardiff. I am grateful for their suggestions,
to Paul Atkinson, Rita Austin, Tony Coxon, Sara Delamont, Robert Dingwall,
Sally Macintyre and Phil Strong, to the anonymous referee for the care with
which s/he offered full and constructive commentary; and I should like to
thank Bill Hudson for his help and encouragement in the preparation of this
2. Cf. R. C. Fuller and R. R. Myers, 1941, 'The Natural History of a Social
Problem', ASR June pp. 321-8; H. S. Becker, 1966, Social Problems: a Modern
Approach, Wiley.
3. Leonore Davidoff er a/. 1976, 'Landscape with Figures: Home and Community
in English Society', in Juliet Mitchell and Ann Oakley (eds) The Rights and
Wrongs of Women, Penguin, p. 142.
4. Joan Busfield 1974, 'Ideologies and Reproduction', in Martin P. M. Richards
(ed.) The Integration of a Child into a Social World, Cambridge University
5. Busfield 1914, ibid.
6. M. D. Shipman, 1972, Childhood: A Sociological Perspective, N.F.E.R. p. 7.
7. Talcott Parsons, 1951, The Social System, R.K.?.
8. Peter Worsley, 1977, Introducing Sociology, Penguin, p. 554.
9. Erving Goffman, 1958, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Social
Science Research Centre Monograph No. 2, University of Edinburgh.
10. ibid. p. 56.
11. Cf. Marcia Millman, 1975, 'She Did it All for Love: a feminist view of the
sociology of deviance' in Marcia Millman and Rosabeth M. Kanter (eds)
Another Voice: Feminist Perspectives on Social Life and Social Science Anchor
20 Murcott
12. James H. Bossard and Eleanor Stoke Boll, 1966, The Sociology of Child
Development, Harper and Row, 4th Ed.
13. Norman K. Denzin, 1910, Developmental Theories of Self and Childhood:
some conceptions and misconceptions, revised version of a paper presented
to the Language and Behaviour Session of the 65th Annual Meeting of the
ASA, September 1st, 1970, as 'The Children of Symbolic Interactionism'.
14. His advocacy of participant observation to achieve this raises some nice, and
probably not insurmountable, problems both of research tactics and of the
self-same substantive issues with which he is concerned.
15. David Hall et al., 1976, 'Experience as an Interactive Process' in Margaret
Stacey (ed.) The Sociology of the NHS, Sociological Review Monograph No.
22, University of Keele, p. 148.
16. Robert McKay, 1973, 'Conceptions of Children and Models of Socialization'
in Hans Peter Dreitzel (ed.) Childhood and Socialization, Recent Sociology
No. 5, CoUier-Macmillan; Rom Harre, 1975, 'The Origins of Social Com-
petence in a Pluralist Society', Oxford Review of Education Vol. 2, pp. 151-
158; Peter and Iona Opie, 1977, The Lore and Language of School Children,
17. Cf. McKay 1973, 'Conceptions of Children '.
18. De nz i n 191Q, Developmental Theories. . . . p . 18.
19. Cf. Robert Dingwall 1977, The Social Organisation of Health Visitor Training,
Croom Helm.
20. The management of a spoiled identity which teenage pregnancy may involve in-
cludes a familiar repertoire of techniques. That in important respects a teenager
is also a child provides an additional dimension. Although children are to an
extent a socially disadvantaged category, there is a key difference between them
and other such categories. Black cannot tum to white, women cannot turn to
men (people whose sex is surgically changed, and those reared as a member of an
inappropriate gender cf. Harold Garfinkel 1967 Studies in Ethnomethodology,
Prentice Hall, constitute limiting cases of just such a rule), but young does tum
to old. Children may be a disadvantaged category, but membership is provisional
and probationary. Not only are pregnancies finite, but so too is teenage. In
both respects teenage pregnancy is an interestingly transient phenomenon
where repair work and reconstruction is readily available.
21. Denzin 1910, Developmental Theories. . . . pp. 2-3.
22. Harre 1975, 'The Origins . . .' pp. 151-2.
23. ibid. p. 151.
24. McKay 1973, 'Conceptions of Childhood ' p . 28.
25. Cf. Denzin 1910, Developmental Theories . . . p. 17.
26. Frank Musgrove 1964, Youth and the Social Order, RKP; Phillipe Aries 1973,
Centuries of Childhood, Penguin.
27. Cf. Aries ibid.; Bossard and Boll 1966, Sociology of Child Development. . .
28. A. G. Davis and P. M. Strong 1976, 'Aren't Children Wonderful - a study of
the allocation of identity in development assessment' in Margaret Stacey (ed.)
The Sociology of the NHS, Sociological Review Monograph No. 22, Keele.
29. Joan Busfield and Michael Paddon, 1977, Thinking about Children: Sociology
and Fertility in Post-War England, C.U.P. p. 134.
30. ibid. p. 139.
31. P. M. Strong, 1978, Personal Communication.
32. Musgrove 1974, Youth . . . p. 36.
The social construction of teenage pregnancy 21
33. Peter Laslett, 1965, The World We Have Lost, Methuen.
34. Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy, 1974, The Rise and Fall of the British Nanny,
Arrow Books.
35. Paul Thompson, 1977, The Edwardians: the Remaking of British Society,
36. Eliot Freidson, 1975, Doctoring Together, Elsevier.
37. So stark a conceptual contrast is maybe curious in a society in which there is
no clear point, no readDy identifiable set of rites de passage, at which a child
becomes an adult. The rituals exist, initiation as an apprentice, school prize-
givings, the keys to the door on either 18th or 21st birthday; but they exist
incompletely and sporadically. Such indeterminacy nevertheless leaves a range
of professionals with the practical question of determining when a child is a
child and not an adult. Coming of age occurs legally in different guises up
until the age of 24. Compiling a list identifying significant ages. Freeman finds
himself having to start at age 5, provoked into remarking that 'the concept of
childhood lacks legal precision', and concludes that 'the time has surely come
for a reassessment of the principles underlying child law and an injection of
rationality'. Michael Freeman 1977, Children: Coming of Age, Legal Action
Group Bulletin, June 1977, pp. 137-138.
38. Cf. Robert Dingwall, 1977, The Social Organisation of Health Visitor Training,
Croom Helm.
39. Cf. Musgrove 1974, Youth . . . p. 55.
40. It is worth noting that other socially disadvantaged categories 'suffer' a similar
dualistic characterisation. Negroes are happy but simple; blacks good dancers
but over-sexed; women are temptresses and virginal; the savage superior in
being unsullied by civilization and inferior by virtue of being uncivilized;
country people are both exemplary in their virtue and idiotic in their threat
to townsfolk. (Raymond Williams, 1973, The Country and the City, Paladin.)
41. A moral panic flared up in the UK in the late summer of 1977, when the
activities of Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), a pressure group one of
whose aims is to seek abolition of the age of consent, were widely reported in
the media. PIE attracted the criticism of Members of Parliament, and of a
bishop for its 'disgusting views' (Sunday Times 4 September 1977, p. 3).
42. Cf. the Victorian and Edwardian unease surrounding the nature of the relation-
ship between the Nanny and the fast-growing boy in her charge. J. Gathorne-
Hardy 1914, The Rise...
43. Mary Douglas 1970, Purity and Danger: an analysis of concepts of pollution
and taboo. Pelican ed. p. 147.
44. ibid. p. 172.
45. Identification of the issue is, of course, specific in time and place, and perhaps
coincident with its identification IM a problem. While pre-marital pregnancy is
self-evidently contrary to dominant contemporary morality, its condemnation
is not universal. Not only are the complexities of trends in illegitimacy still
being unravelled (Cf. Peter Laslett 1977, Family Life and Illicit Love in Earlier
Generations, C.U.P.) the relation of variations in rate to differential strength of
condemnation remains a matter for conjecture. Hints are provided by
Chamberlain that pre-marital intercourse and a resulting pregnancy carries
somewhat different connotations in rural areas. (Mary Chamberlain 1977, Fen
women: a portrait of women in an English Village, Virago) and Emmett docu-
ments the way in which a politeness of 'not knowing' what is publicly available
22 Murcott
to know suspends the judgement of a strict chapel moral code in the face of
high rates of illegitimacy and 'forced' marriages. (Isobel Emmett 1964, A
North Wales Village, RKP). Whilst Macintyre presents evidence of variations in
constructions of pregnancy in both these married and unmarried which under-
lines themes subsidiary to dominant morality. (Sally Macintyre 1977, Single
and Pregnant, Croom Helm).
46. Juliet Cheetham 1977, Unwanted Pregnancy and Counselling, RKP, Court
1976, Fit For the Future: the Report of the Committee on Child Health
Services (The Court Report) HMSO cmnd. 6684, Derek GUI 1970 et al.
'Pregnancy in Teenage Girls' Social Science and Medicine. Vol. 3 pp. 549-574.
J. A. McEwan et al. 1974, 'Pregnancy in girls under seventeen'. Journal of
Biosocial Science Vol. 6, No. 3; J. S. Robertson and Griselda Can 1970 'Late
bookers for ante-natal care' in Gordon McLachlan and Richard Shegog (eds)
In the Beginning, Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust; Sue Teper 1975, 'Recent
Trends in Teenage Pregnancy in England and Wales', Journal of Biosocial
Science Vol. 7, pp. 141-152.
47. Court 1976 Fit for the Future. . . . pp. 167-8.
48. Margaret Bone 1913, Family Planning Services in England and Wales, (an
enquiry carried out on behalf of the DHSS) OPCS. HMSO. p. 9. For a criticism
of the disinclination of researchers to define terms such as unwanted pregnancy
Cf. Paula Hass 1974, 'Wanted and unwanted Pregnancies: a fertility decision
making model'. Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 125-167.
49. ibid. pp. 67-8.
50. Teper 1975, 'Recent Trends . . .'.
51. ibid. p. 142.
52. ibid. p. 151.
53. ibid. p. 149.
54. Busfield 1974, 'Ideologies . . .' p. 11.
55. Cf. J. W. B. Douglas 1971 et al. All Our Future, Panther ed., Derek G. GiU
1970, Looking Ahead: Some Social and Individual Consequences of Mass
Acceptance of the Two Child Family in Britain, Annals of the New York
Academy of Sciences Vol. 175, Article 3, pp. 847-867.
56. DHSS 1976, Prevention and Health: Everybody's Business, Consultative Docu-
ment HMSO, p. 42.
57. Court 1976, Fit for the Future . . . p. 167.
58. Teper 1975, 'Recent Tr ends. . . ' p. 145.
59. National Council for One Parent Families 1977. 'Facts 2: Pregnancy Outside
Marriage', reported in New Society 1 September 1977, p. 444.
60. New Society 1 September 1977, p. 444.
61. Court 1976, Fit for the Future . . .
62. J. W. B. Douglas ef fl/. 1911, All our Future . . . p . 145.
63. Gilietal. 1970 ' Pregnancy . . .'.
64. Cf. Musgrove 1974, Youth . . . p. 150.
65. Michael Schofield 1973, The Sexual Behaviour of Young Adults, Allen Lane,
Cf. also T. R. Fyvel 1963, The Insecure Offenders: rebellious Youth in the
Welfare State, Penguin, Peter Willmott 1969, Adolescent Boys of East London,
Pelican. Revised ed.
66. Howard J. Parker 1974, View from the Boys, David and Charles.
67. E.g. Ian R. Taylor 1971, 'Soccer Consciousness and Soccer Hooliganism', in
Stanley Cohen (ed.) Images of Deviance, Penguin. Stanley Cohen 1911, Folk
Devils and Moral Panics, Paladin ed.
The social construction of teenage pregnancy 23
68. Gill 1970, Looking Ahead . . ., p. 857.
69. Cf. Geoff Mungham and Geoff Pearson (eds) 1976, Working Class Youth
Culture, RKP, also Carol Smart 1976, Women, Crime and Criminology: a
Feminist Critique, RKP.
70. Angela McRobbie and Jenny Garber 1975, 'Girls and Subcultures' in Resistance
through Rituals, Working papers in Cultural Studies, Centre for Contemporary
Cultural Studies, Birmingham; but for a view of adolescent sexual attitude and
behaviour in an American cultural context Cf. Prudence Mors Rains 1971,
Becoming an Unwed Mother: a Sociological Account, Aldine Atherton.
71. Pearl Jephcott 1942, Girls Growing Up, Faber.
72. Geoff Mungham 1976, 'Youth in Pursuit of Itself in Mungham and Pearson
(eds) Working Class . . . p. 85.
73. Court 1976, Fit for the Future . . . pp. 167-8.
74. Cf. Peter W. G. Wright 1976, The Birth of Child-Rearing as a Technical Field,
presented at BSA Annual Conference, Manchester.
75. Gill etal. 1970, 'Pregnancy . . .', McEwan etal. 1974 'Pregnancy . . .'.
76. Bone 1973, Family Planning . . . p. 67.
77. DES 1966 Health in Education (Education Pamphlet No. 49) Department of
Education and Science HMSO.
78. ibid. p. 53.
79. Cf. Renee C. Fox 1977, *The Mediealisation and Demedicalisation of American
Society', Daedalus. Vol. 106, No. 1. Winter.
80. Eliot Freidson 1910, Profession of Medicine, Dodd Mead, p. 251.
81. William R. Rosengren 1964, 'Social Class and Becoming 111' in A. B. Shostak
and W. Gomberg (eds) Blue-Collar World: Studies of the American Worker,
Prentice Hall, Hilary Graham 1977, 'Images of Pregnancy in Ante-natal
Litei-ature' in Robert Dingwall et al. (eds) Health Care and Health Knowledge,
CrotJhi tteim.
82. Sally Mteintyre 1976, 'To Have or Have Not' in Margaret Stacey (ed.) The
Sociology of the National Health Service, Sociological Review Monograph No.
22j University of Keele; Sir Norman Jeffcoate 1976, 'Medicine versus Nature',
Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Vol. 21, No. 5,
pp. 263-267; M. G. Kerr 1975, Problems and Perspectives in Reproductive
Medicine, Inaugural Lecture No. 61, University of Edinburgh; Iain Chalmers
1976, 'British Debate on Obstetric Practice', Paediatrics Vol. 58, No. 3,
pp. 308-312.
83. Court 1976, Fit for the Future . . . p. 167.
84. Rosengren 1964, 'Social Class . . .', Graham 1977, 'Images of Pregnancy . , .'.
85. Davis and Strong, 1976, 'Aren't Children Wonderful. . .'.
86. Peter Conrad 1916, Identifying Hyperactive Children, Lexington Books.
B7. Cf. Anne Murcott 1977, 'Blind Alleys and Blinkers: the Scope of Medical
Sociology', Scottish Journal of Sociology, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 155-171.
B8. Reprinted in Bossard and Boll 1966, The Sociology of Child Development. ..