Gifts of blood and organs : the market and “fictitious” commodities
Richard M. Titmuss’s study of blood donation is still a reference on the subject of giving for medical purposes. This article reviews Titmuss’s main arguments, together with economists’ reactions to his affirmation that a system based on giving and altruism is superior to one organized around the market and self-interested action. It then shows that the gift/market opposition is a reductive one, in that it does not take into account the industrial aspect of medical donation. Lastly, on the basis of empirical information about organ donation, the article brings to light the work of social construction without which, as Titmuss clearly understood, modern forms of giving could not have been established.