International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 305

Full Length Research Paper

Donated Blood, the Body and the Self: Towards a Hierarchy of the Self?

Pat Mahon-Daly
  • Pat Mahon-Daly
  • Buckinghamshire New University, United Kingdom.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 27 April 2016
  •  Accepted: 23 September 2016
  •  Published: 31 October 2016


This paper examines the changes in relationship between the body, society and donated blood.  Studies in this area (Waldby 2004; Tutton 2002; Scully et al., 2006; Shaw, 2010) have focused on the moral or ethical issues related to blood donation rather than corporeal and cultural issues. This paper deconstructs the impact of developments in bio-technology and commodification of blood with regard to the self, blood donation and blood products and analyses the way in which donors understand bloods’ commodification has altered meanings attached to blood and of impact of corporeal connectedness on the self as Donor.  Using data from a qualitative ethnographic study, this paper concludes that the Donor Self has become formed into a hierarchy of parts, to manage the moral and ethical demands on the person when donating, as a result of the medical need for all body parts. Increasingly, blood donors feel they ‘have to give something of themselves’, it introduces the unique concepts of differing selves: the Inner Self, the Liquid and Solid Self relating this to the work of Goffman, as donors seek to rationalize what being a blood donor means for them and their blood.


Key words: Body, donated blood, spare parts, gift exchange, self, hierarchy, corporeality.