Social Production of Crisis: Blood, Politics, and Death in France and the United States


SKU: 9780197682487
Author: Nathanson, Constance A Bergeron, Henri
Publication Date: 03/24/2023
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Binding: Hardcover
Media: Book
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When does epidemic disease disrupt society to the point where it becomes a political crisis? In the early 1980s, almost unnoticed in the larger drama that was AIDS, over half of hemophiliacs and a large number of blood transfusion recipients were infected with toxic blood contaminated with HIV. The French public’s “discovery” of this catastrophe in the early 1990s created a transformative political crisis; this same discovery in the United States went largely unnoticed.

In The Social Production of Crisis, Constance A. Nathanson and Henri Bergeron focus on a profoundly troubling story to present a detailed case comparative analysis not only of the catastrophe itself and its multiple retrospective interpretations but also of its intimate connection to the history and organization of blood as a consumer product in each country. They draw on secondary sources, archival research, and interviews with key players to provide a historical, political, and social reconstruction of the HIV contamination of the blood supply to answer the question of how and why disease morphed into crisis in France and not in the United States. They also raise questions about the curious immunity to human suffering as a policy engine in the United States, about the often reiterated weakness of civil society in France, and about theorizing alternative epidemic trajectories.

Investigating a series of morally shocking events, this book develops a sociological theory of how political crises are socially produced and raises questions about disease policy and politics in the US and France.