The Gift that Pays? Money, Morals, and Classed Bodies in Paid Plasma Donation

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The Gift that Pays? Money, Morals, and Classed Bodies in Paid Plasma Donation

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In this dissertation, I use the plasma pharmaceutical market to examine how beliefs about morality and class are constituted and reproduced through markets. Drawing from 38 in-depth interviews, participant observations, and textual analysis, I argue that cultural beliefs about the morality of classed bodies shape the plasma pharmaceutical market. Specifically, the market crafts its moral palatability using arguments about the suffering of people needing plasma-based therapeutics while simultaneously leaving plasma suppliers (symbolically coded as poor) out of the narrative. In rendering plasma suppliers invisible, this process reifies beliefs about the poor as having little moral or social worth. Treated as low-wage workers engaged in a stigmatized practice, plasma suppliers navigate their participation in the market by creating moral boundaries between themselves and other poor people, thus reifying cultural beliefs about poverty. It is through this iterative process that the plasma market constitutes and reifies class.



University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2022. Major: Sociology. Advisors: Penny Edgell, Kathleen Hull. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 123 pages.

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Taborda, Caty. (2022). The Gift that Pays? Money, Morals, and Classed Bodies in Paid Plasma Donation. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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