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Doulas are non-medically affiliated people who provide emotional, physical, and informational support to people before, during, and after childbirth. The purpose of this study is to understand the role of the doula beyond its typically-assumed value as a superficial or consumerist entity and in relation to the broader maternal health care system available within the United States. Through six in-depth interviews with doulas about their conceptions of their personal identities, as well as their relationships with their medical counterparts and their clients, this project contributes to extant literature on symbolic interactionist linkages between identities and occupations. I examine how doula work requires one to be adaptive in political, performative, and emotional contexts. These factors contribute to the conception of doulas as rooted in an alternative knowledge system. My findings show how the doula occupation contributes to a decline of medical professional dominance.
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Firkser, Madeline Lucie, "Delivering Identities: A Symbolic Interactionist Study of Doulas and the Decline of Medical Professional Dominance" (2019). Senior Projects Spring 2019. 56.
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