February 23, 2016 at 10:23 am

Hoffman Seeks Undergraduate Apprentice for Project on Midwifery

Dr. Bruce Hoffman, Associate Professor of Sociology, is seeking an undergraduate research apprentice for a project on “Birth Activism, Law, & the Development of Grass-Roots Midwifery Organizations.”

Dr. Bruce Hoffman

Dr. Bruce Hoffman

Currently enrolled Ohio University undergraduates from all colleges are invited to apply for the Research Apprenticeship Program. Administered by the Honors Tutorial College and sponsored by several other units across campus, the program enables students to build skills in research and creative activity by supporting faculty projects. Selected students are paid $10 an hour and agree to work during the time period specified in the description.


This apprenticeship is for 10 hours a week for the Fall 2016 academic year.

How to Apply

Applications are due by March 18, 2016. To apply for apprenticeship(s), a student must e-mail Dr. Bruce Hoffman. Contact information is listed in the apprenticeship description. The email should explain the student’s qualifications and interest in the project (no more than three paragraphs) and have an attached resume. It is strongly recommended that students meet with an adviser in the Career and Leadership Development Center in Baker Center 533 to help them compose their letter and resume before applying. Late applications will not be accepted. Notification will occur by April 15, 2016. For more information about the application process, contact Laura Schaeffer, Director of Honors Enrichment Programs at or 593-2725. Students may apply for as many apprenticeships as they wish.

Project Description

This study investigates how local, grass-roots midwifery organizations developed across the United States between 1975-2000. The legal and professional status of independent or non-nurse midwifery varies tremendously across the U.S., ranging from states in which it is clearly legal to states in which it is prohibited and actively prosecuted. I use the variation in the legal status of midwifery as an opportunity to investigate how initially similar populations of birth activists and midwives were shaped by different legal contexts, analyzing how actors developed diverse organizational forms, group identity, and understandings of midwifery practice in these states. By approaching prosecution and the attainment of licensure not as discrete events that affect midwives when enacted but as processes that transform midwifery over time, my study contributes to our understanding of the complex ways in which law shapes and pervades everyday practice. My project is grounded in analysis of the newsletters of local and state midwifery organizations, which are used to trace organizational development and degrees of communication between organizations, supplemented by interviews with birth activists and midwives.

Student Contribution to Project

In this phase of the project, the research apprentice will primarily assist in the construction of a database and visual archive out of midwifery newsletters, correspondence, and other documentary evidence. To build our database, items will be organized, scanned, interpreted, and coded using NVivo, a tool for qualitative data analysis. The apprentice will also assist in exploring and developing strategies for the visual presentation and exploration of the data, drawing from the emerging field of digital humanities.

Desired Qualifications for Apprentice

While students from all majors will be considered, this project is especially suited for students with a background in the social sciences (including sociology, anthropology, history,  political science, and women’s, gender and sexuality studies) and with interests in one or more of the following: law, social movements, alternative health movements, qualitative research processes, or digital humanities.

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