Brunel University Research Archive (BURA) >
Schools >
School of Social Sciences >
School of Social Sciences Theses >

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/7028

Title: Blood, society and the gift: An ethnography of change in the gift relationship
Authors: Mahon-Daly, Patricia Mary
Advisors: Staples, J
Milewa, T
Keywords: Blood donation
Body
Citizenship
Gift
Titmuss
Publication Date: 2012
Publisher: School of Social Sciences Theses
Abstract: Commentary about solid or whole body part transplantation, transfusion and donation is well documented and has added to discourse about who gives and receives and how. Commentary about another body part – blood – is, it is argued here, less well developed (Sanner, 2001; Lock, 2004; Scheper-Hughes and Wacquant, 2006; Shaw, 2009). Blood and its modern-day sociology and anthropology is understood and limited by its links with both Titmuss’ altruism and gift exchange theories. This thesis, using a qualitative ethnographic approach, re-examines and introduces new discourse about blood, challenging the orthodoxy of altruism and seeking new understanding and justification for blood donation. It uses testimony from 80 blood donors to elicit real-time ideas about blood as a source of risk rather than a gift from strangers. It also argues that donors “give to get back” their donations rather than give as a form of altruistic behaviour, thus introducing the concept that blood donating is a form of covenant between society and the individual or a form of deposit. Issues of trust are examined via the lens of deferment as increasingly it is not good enough to just donate blood without stringent societal, as well as techno-medical, surveillance. Donating blood is shown to be a form of active citizenship, and to be deferred from doing so has a direct impact on individuals’ freedom to donate and thus community membership. The emotional labour of giving is revealed by the testimonies of “able” donors, which evidence that not only do donors perceive their blood to be special, but also the act of giving is a labour carried out by the few who can do it for the majority, in contrast to those donors who regard giving blood to be a mundane, functional practice. Lastly, an emerging hierarchy of self in relation to the body is uncovered here revealing hints at its’ inalienable status. The thesis charts the journey of blood from being a mystical part of the body, linked to goodness, to blood being the new “master tool” of modern society, imbued with risk and therefore entrusted to society via scrutinising blood management systems. The methodological framework is centred on an interpretative approach, using data gathered from interviews and questionnaires from active blood donors in sessions at the National Blood Service (NHSBT) as well as testimony gathered from individual one-to-one interviews. It refers to theories by Foucault, Mauss and Douglas to interpret the qualitative data revealing blood as a target of bio-power, risk management and social exchange and a shifting dislocated new body part, and it sets out to challenge the orthodoxy of altruism as the rationale and justification for blood donation in modern Britain.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
URI: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/7028
Appears in Collections:Anthropology
School of Social Sciences Theses
Sociology and Communications

Files in This Item:

File Description SizeFormat
FulltextThesis.pdf1.27 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in BURA are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

 


Library (c) Brunel University.    Powered By: DSpace
Send us your
Feedback. Last Updated: September 14, 2010.
Managed by:
Hassan Bhuiyan