Skip to main content

Emergency Contraceptive Pills as a Social Problem in an Era of Safe Sex

Pooke, Verity (2019) Emergency Contraceptive Pills as a Social Problem in an Era of Safe Sex. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:81332)

Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only until 18 June 2023.

Contact us about this Publication
[thumbnail of 241Verity_Pooke_PhD_Emergency_Contraceptive_Pills_as_a_Social_Problem_in_an_Era_.pdf]


The Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP) is a safe and effective post-coital contraceptive. As its name suggests, though, UK policy purposively suggests it ought only be used in 'emergencies'. Meanwhile, popular discourses frame the contraceptive as an ambiguous social problem. This thesis addresses the social problem process of the ECP on two levels. For the first level, it opens with a review of the social problem construct running throughout policy and research around the contraceptive. Early chapters demonstrate that this construct produces a dual meaning, in which use of ECPs is simultaneously framed as responsible and irresponsible. Using the framework of the pharmakon, this work then employs a microsociological approach to better understand the second level: how this construct impacts the lived experience of those who come into contact with the social problem of the ECP. A qualitative approach is used to investigate this lived experience. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews are conducted with sexual health nurses who distribute the ECP. Telephone and face-to-face interviews are conducted with women who use the ECP. Finally, focus groups are conducted with women of reproductive age who could access the ECP. Drawing on the findings from these interactions, the framework of the Pharmakon Tightrope is developed and utilised to outline the 'meaning making' processes of those who navigate the wider claims made around the ECP. The findings indicate that various actors that come into contact with the ECP are each impacted by its dual meanings, as they all come to make sense of social roles and identities that emerge in their contact with a social problem.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Lee, Ellie J.
Thesis advisor: Furedi, Frank
Uncontrolled keywords: Emergency Contraception, Contraception, Reproductive Health, Social Problems, Social Policy, Health Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 26 May 2020 12:10 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):