The Generosity of the Dead: A Sociology of Organ Procurement in France

The Generosity of the Dead: A Sociology of Organ Procurement in France

Hardback Medical Law and Ethics

By (author) Graciela Nowenstein

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  • Publisher: Ashgate Publishing Limited
  • Format: Hardback | 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 232mm x 20mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 30 November 2010
  • Publication City/Country: Aldershot
  • ISBN 10: 0754674320
  • ISBN 13: 9780754674320
  • Edition: 1
  • Illustrations note: includes c. 2 b&w illustrations & c. 3 tables
  • Sales rank: 1,378,830

Product description

This volume draws on the French experience to examine the on-going international debate surrounding organ procurement. Commentators have tried to explain the dramatic differences in procurement rates in different countries in terms of legal variables, highlighting the variety of legal systems regulating consent. The general assumption has been that Presumed Consent (opting-out) systems produce better results than Express Consent (opting-in) systems. This study uses the French case to challenge this widely held assumption. The author argues that the French presumed consent systems coexist with patterns of behaviour that in practice do not mobilize the law. It is suggested that cultural, contextual and relational factors explain differences between procurement rates rather than the legal ones. The book explores four areas that are key to current research in socio-legal studies: presumed consent systems to organ donation assume generosity between anonymous citizens. How this is dealt with in practice reveals much about the state and nature of social solidarity; the changing legitimacy and scope of projects of social engineering via the law, and thereby the changing nature of the citizen-state relationship; the legitimacy of state intervention in mourning situations and state discretion in the use of corpses; and recent modifications of the status of medical professionals as figures of authority and agents of state policy. This title will be a valuable resource for researchers, academics, policy-makers and practitioners with an interest in this complex and topical subject.

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Author information

Dr Graciela Nowenstein is Marie Curie Fellow at the Department of Legal Theory, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

Review quote

'This is an important contribution to the sociology of law, affording a powerful illustration of the general thesis that whether a law "works" as intended depends in the first place on how it is received and interpreted by those on the "shop floor" where the behaviour to be regulated takes place. No reader will come away still believing that the legal regime in force and general statistics on procurement rates tell one much about what is actually going on.' John Griffiths, University of Groningen, The Netherlands 'This interdisciplinary study provides rich sociological material grounded on a solid and convincing theoretical framework. It will be a major reference for all those who are interested in the interplay between law and science.' Stephanie Hennette-Vauchez, Universite Paris Ouest Nanterre, France 'Nowenstein's book enriches our understanding of organ procurement practice and policy with empirically grounded theoretical insights. In debates about opting-out systems of organ donation this book can nourish the hesitations that up till now are often labelled as irrational and incoherent. Beyond the field of organ transplantation the book offers valuable insights about relations between laws and the practices that laws aim to regulate.' Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

Table of contents

Contents: Introduction; Part I Law as Policy: Organ transplantation: from 'an eternally hopeless dream' to the management of scarce resources; Law as tool for enhancing social change: from faith to disenchantment. Part II Organ Retrieval in Hospitals: Walking on Thin Ice: From heterogeneity to normalization; The 'living cadaver'; Unpredictable situations; Whose gift ? Part III Law and Policy: The regulation of generosity by the state; The law as policy; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.