Telling reproductive stories: Social scripts, relationality and donor conception

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Storytelling is a fundamental part of human interaction; it is also deeply social and political in nature. In this article, I explore reproductive storytelling as a phenomenon of sociological consequence. I do so in the context of donor conception, which used to be managed through secrecy but where children are now perceived ‘to have the right’ to know about their genetic origins. I draw on original qualitative data with families of donor conceived children, and bringing my data into conversation with social script theory and the concept of relationality, I investigate the disjuncture between the value now placed on openness and storytelling, and the absence of an existing social script by which to do so. I show the nuanced ways in which this absence plays out on relational playing-fields, within multidimensional, intergenerational relationships. I suggest that in order to understand sociologically the significance and process of reproductive storytelling, it is vital to keep both the role of social scripts, and embedded relationality, firmly in view.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-695
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Early online date19 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jan 2021


  • donor conception
  • grandparenthood
  • lesbian motherhood
  • parenthood
  • relational script
  • relationality
  • reproduction
  • secrecy
  • social script
  • storytelling


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