Power, Trust, and Pleasure: Relationship Components of Contraceptive Negotiations

Julie Fennell, Brown University

Demographers have recently made the methodological decision to focus more on couples, rather than individuals, in research on fertility and contraceptive decision-making, but the theoretical foundations of this research remain underdeveloped. In this paper, I present a theoretical approach for analyzing contraceptive negotiations between partners, emphasizing the role of power, trust, and pleasure in determining whether those negotiations ever take place, and their outcome if they do. I explore the meaning of these factors and clarify their role in the contraceptive negotiation process, taking into account the multiple motivations people may have for contraceptive use. I contend that all three factors work in tandem, but I acknowledge that each factor assumes primacy in certain types of negotiations. This approach is grounded in the position that couple dynamics are important for fertility and contraceptive research because decisions about fertility and contraception occur in the context of sexual encounters and sexual relationships.

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Presented in Session 116: Couple Dynamics, Sexual Behavior, and Family Planning