Article ID: CBB344538475

Global Fertility Chains: An Integrative Political Economy Approach to Understanding the Reproductive Bioeconomy (January 2022)


Over the last two decades, social scientists across disciplines have been researching how value is extracted and governed in the reproductive bioeconomy, which broadly refers to the various ways reproductive tissues, bodies, services, customers, workers, and data are inserted into capitalist modes of accumulation. While many of these studies are empirically grounded in single country–based analyses, this paper proposes an integrative political economy framework, structured around the concept of “global fertility chains.” The latter articulates the reproductive bioeconomy as a nexus of intraconnected practices, operations, and transactions between enterprises, states, and households across the globe, through which reproductive services and commodities are produced, distributed, and consumed. Employing a diffractive reading of the literature on commodity chains and care chains, this unified approach scrutinizes the coproduction of value, biology, and technoscience and their governance mechanisms in the accumulation of capital by taking into account (1) the unevenly developed geographies of global fertility chains, (2) their reliance on women’s waged and unwaged reproductive labor, and (3) the networked role of multiple actors at multiple scales without losing sight of the (4) constitutive role of (supra)national states in creating demand, organizing supply, and accommodating the distribution of surplus value. We empirically ground this integrative political economy approach of the reproductive bioeconomy through collaborative, multisited fieldwork on transnational reproduction networks in Israel/Palestine, Romania, Georgia, and Spain.

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Authors & Contributors
Jeon, June
Amaia Pérez Orozco
Rijcke, Sarah de
Greenhough, Beth
Carsten Ochs
Yehonatan Abramson
Science, Technology, and Human Values
Tapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society
Social Studies of Science
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
University of Minnesota Press
University of California Press
The MIT Press
Science and technology studies (STS)
Reproductive technologies
Power (social sciences)
Weitzmann, Chaim
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
20th century
United States
Great Britain
Buenos Aires (Argentina)

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