Conflicted hope: social egg freezing and clinical conflicts of interest

Christopher Mayes*, Jane Williams, Wendy Lipworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past decade ‘social egg freezing’ has emerged as a technology of hope that purports to empower women by enabling them to continue their careers or find the right partner without the fear of jeopardising their fertility. This technology has been promoted and celebrated by fertility companies, bioethicists, clinicians, and multi-national corporations such as Apple and Facebook. While critical questions have been raised, they tend to focus on ethical and legal issues, such as informed consent and patient autonomy. This paper uses Foucault’s notion of dispositif as analytic lens to examine the entanglement of the commercial arrangements of fertility companies, the discursive use of hope in promoting these services, and effects on professional medical care. Drawing on socio-political analyses of hope, this paper examines the potential financial conflicts of interest facing clinicians and the way discourses of hope might mask problematic financial relations and lack of evidence of effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-59
Number of pages15
JournalHealth Sociology Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • conflicts of interest
  • social egg freezing
  • hope
  • cruel optimism
  • reproduction
  • Foucault


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