Bioeconomy, Moral Friction and Symbolic Law

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During the past decade the notion of bioeconomy has gained increasing attention as an area needing special governmental attention to stimulate biotechnological innovation in Europe and elsewhere. In a parallel, but ostensibly unrelated movement, a number of legal initiatives are said to be aimed at safeguarding the body from economic exploitation. Social science scholars have criticized the trade in human biological material, and claimed that the legal work to protect the body is nothing more than a symbolic gesture covering up exploitation for economic gain. With this chapter I suggest that though ‘symbolic’, treaties aimed at protecting the body are symbols with great impact. Similarly, the material preparation of body parts as tradable grafts involves symbolic work and this symbolism is an essential part of making a ‘market’. I argue that instances of ‘symbolic law’ can reflect situations in which several competing agendas are at play and to understand the effects, we therefore need to investigate empirically what emerges through this friction between competing governmental ambitions. My discussion is based on studies of tissue exchange in Europe and seeks to integrate theories of symbolic law with social science theories of performativity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSymbolic Legislation Theory and Developments in Biolaw
EditorsBart van Klink, Britta van Beers, Lonneke Poort
Number of pages16
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer Publishing Company
Publication date1 Sep 2016
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-33363-2
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-33365-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016
SeriesLegisprudence Library

ID: 166234368