Silenced uses and moral ideals in the exchange of Danish blood and plasma

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This article explores the interplay between cultural discourses, moral reasoning and silenced uses in the international exchange of Danish blood plasma. Campaigns, policymakers, health professionals working in the blood banks – and even donors – consistently refer to ideals portraying blood as ‘beyond trade’. This stands in remarkable contrast to the fact that the donated plasma is sold to an international pharmaceutical company in consequence of rules of tender set by the European Union. Donors are not aware of this, and when asked in hypothetical terms about trade, they strongly oppose it. However, we find that available cultural discourses poorly capture the moral reasoning among many donors. In fact, when informed about the existing forms of tender, plasma trade sounds like a good idea to most of them. Furthermore, they are not particularly interested in information. We argue that the silencing of trade is infusing the system with an unnecessary vulnerability that could easily be avoided with a different communication strategy towards donors. To arrive at new and better strategies, however, one must move beyond the immediate words and reactions of donors contemplating trade and seek to understand their reasoning and valuations. This move also allows us theoretical reorientation with respect to studies of the gift/commodity dichotomy.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)106-122
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

ID: 147506690