Shedding the Cocoon: a ‘Mortal Embodiment’ Perspective of Organ Donation in Supporting and Enhancing Life

Ai-Ling Lai, University of Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
Janine Dermody, University of Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
Stuart Hanmer-Lloyd, University of Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
This paper explores how potential female donors in the UK negotiate their ambivalent perceptions of cadaveric organ donation from a ‘mortal embodiment’ perspective. Specifically, we explore how the decision to dispossess body parts in the event of death challenges the notion of the body as the marker and annihilation of self under the contours of late modernity. Using a hermeneutic approach, multiple active interviews have been conducted with potential female donors, aged 21-30 who claim to harbour ambivalent perceptions towards organ donation. Through our ‘rich and thick data’ we reveal how potential donors actively rework socio-cultural constructs of the body by enacting various interpretive repertoires to make sense of their embodied self. We propose that the current organ donation promotional message of the “gift-of-life” should take into account the embodied self as an ongoing project of transitions and transformation that transcend biological death. Our paper therefore supports the research programs proposed by scholars of ‘Consumer Culture Theory’ and contributes to the recent call for ‘Transformative Consumer Research’.
[ to cite ]:
Ai-Ling Lai, Janine Dermody, and Stuart Hanmer-Lloyd (2007) ,"Shedding the Cocoon: a ‘Mortal Embodiment’ Perspective of Organ Donation in Supporting and Enhancing Life", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34, eds. Gavan Fitzsimons and Vicki Morwitz, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 167-174.