Understanding the social organisation of maternity care systems: Midwifery as a Touchstone

C. Benoit, S. Wrede, I. Bourgeault, J. Sandall, R. DeVries, Edwin Roland Van Teijlingen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    88 Citations (Scopus)


    Theories of professions and healthcare organisation have difficulty in explaining variation in the organisation of maternity services across developed welfare states. Four countries - the United Kingdom, Finland, the Netherlands and Canada - serve as our case examples. While sharing several features, including political and economic systems, publicly-funded universal healthcare and favourable health outcomes, these countries nevertheless have distinct maternity care systems. We use the profession of midwifery, found in all four countries, as a 'touchstone' for exploring the sources of this diversity. Our analysis focuses on three key dimensions: (1) welfare state approaches to legalising midwifery and negotiating the role of the midwife in the division of labour; (2) professional boundaries in the maternity care domain; and (3) consumer mobilisation in support of midwifery and around maternity issues.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)722-737
    Number of pages15
    JournalSociology of Health & Illness
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • cross-national comparison
    • maternity care system
    • midwifery
    • welfare state
    • inter-professional interests
    • citizen's relations
    • service users
    • WORK


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