Informations and abstract
Keywords: donation of blood, public haealth, economic sociology
Blood donation, distinctively characterised by both the value of the donated material itself and the process of the donation, is an emblematic sign of a universalistic and equalitarian conception of human rights. Usually, the number of blood donors living in an area is a significant proxy of the trust levels and of the social capital, and it is positively correlated to other phenomena (population mobility, job market's access, low level of familism), typically associated with an «open» society. The paper attempts to analyse the cultural, social and economic value of a service founded on people who voluntarily and regularly give blood in a culturally fragmented context which is in great need of social renewal. Moreover, it aims at enhancing the benefits and costs of political welfare which rely on gratuitousness and the third sector. It focuses on the Italian case where the current system of collection and distribution of blood is based on the donation market; thus, on the necessary cooperation between public, government and local institutions, and non-profit agencies. It researches the AVIS organisation, the Italian leader in blood collection. Quantitative data, in order to measure the social-economic impact of such a system, and qualitative material, to piece together the scenario by which donors, volunteers, non-profit organisations and politicians continually redefine the social contract for health care, are explored.