How to Feed a Baby: Global Processes and Individual Choices Open Access

Rubtsova, Anna A. (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/736664631?locale=en
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Abstract

How to Feed a Baby: Global Processes and Individual Choices
By Anna A. Rubtsova


Parents' decisions about infant feeding may seem to be a matter of individual choice but
they are subject to the influence of many social factors. This dissertation studies the
impact of global economic, political, and cultural processes on infant feeding decisions
worldwide, using world-polity, world-system, and McDonaldization theories. I
hypothesize that global factors affect infant feeding practices through changes in both
social institutions, such as national legislation, and individual preferences. In one portion
of the dissertation, I conduct quantitative analyses of the effects of global factors on rates
of exclusive breastfeeding of infants up to six months of age in 47 countries in the year
2000. The results show that both integration into the world economy and general
rationalization/McDonaldization are negatively associated with rates of exclusive
breastfeeding. Integration into world society (rather than the world economy) has a
positive impact on breastfeeding rates, partially via the mechanism of states' adoption of
the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. Another portion of the
study examines how global processes affect decision-making by individual caretakers,
based on 60 semi-structured interviews with mothers of infants (half in Atlanta, USA,
and half in Kiev, Ukraine). I found that women's infant feeding discourse and practices
reflect numerous global factors, such as the efficiency criteria connected with
McDonaldization and world-cultural scripts promoting breastfeeding (e.g.,
WHO/UNICEF guidelines on breastfeeding). The impact of global factors is mediated by
national contextual factors as well as mothers' personal circumstances, socio-economic
status, and micro-level interactions. One of the key mechanisms through which global
processes affect individual decision-making is that of identity construction and the
redefinition of motherhood. World-cultural processes drive the rationalization of
motherhood, which leads to increased reliance on professional advice and specialized
literature on child care, development, and parenting. These findings contribute to the
sociological literature on globalization by advancing our knowledge of its effects on
everyday life. The study also yields implications for policies designed to affect infant
feeding practices at the national and international levels.

Table of Contents

Page

Chapter 1

1

Theoretical and Empirical Puzzles

2

Dissertation Overview

7

Chapter 2. Theoretical Framework

13

A Brief History of Infant Feeding as a Global Issue

14

Overall Theoretical Framework and Definitions

20

Infant Feeding and Global Cultural, Political, and Economic Processes

25

The Macro-Micro Link for Infant Feeding

46

Conclusions

51

Chapter 3. Research Design and Methods

55

Research Design

56

Qualitative Methods

57

Quantitative Methods

66

Chapter 4. Infant Feeding in Global Perspective

83

Data and Methods

87

Results

90

Discussion and Conclusions

102

Chapter 5. Two Cases in Point: Infant Feeding in USA and Ukraine

111

The Ukrainian Context

112

US Context

125

Conclusions

136

Chapter 6. Feeding Choices: When Does McDonaldization Matter?

139

Breastfeeding: Taken-for-Granted or Rationalized?

142

Formula: Convenience or "Chemistry?"

151

Supplementary Foods: Home-Made or McDonaldized?

174

Conclusions

183

Chapter 7. Between Scylla and Charybdis: Global Processes, Local Contexts, and Micro- Level Interactions

185

Tradition Encounters UNICEF: World-Polity Processes and Local Contexts

189

Class Matters: Infant Feeding and World-System Structures

242

Conclusions

258

Chapter 8. Conclusions

264

Summary of Main Findings

265

Theoretical Implications

272

Policy Implications

281

Limitations and Further Directions

284

References

287

Appendix A. Variable Descriptions and Data Sources

315

Appendix B. Pierson Correlation Coefficients

317

Appendix C. Descriptive Statistics for Quantitative Variables

318

Appendix D. Principal Component Factor Analysis

320

Appendix E. Interview Guides

321

Appendix F. Consent Form

325

Appendix G. Recruitment Materials

328

Appendix H. Interview Analysis - List of Codes

332

About this Dissertation

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