Risky exchanges

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Scopus citations


In October 2006, icon pop singer Madonna attracted international headlines by adopting David Banda. David was a motherless one-year-old boy residing at the Home of Hope Orphan Care Centre in the isolated village of Mchinji, Mali. The boy's father, reportedly unable to support his child, expressed great pleasure that the boy should escape local poverty and receive such great care. At the same time, Madonna pledged about three million dollars to help orphans in Malawi. Meanwhile, Malawian advocacy groups objected to what they apparently saw as Madonna's impulse purchase. It's not like selling property, protested Eyes of the Child, a child rights organization. The advocacy group sounded a familiar theme: some market transactions go beyond the boundary of decency. Similar objections arise with regard to transfer of sperm, eggs, body parts, and even personal care. What do critics worry about? Typically, they voice two logically distinct objections: first, that some goods and services should never be sold, and second, that some market arrangements are inherently pernicious. These two concerns differ starkly. The first focuses on what is being exchanged, and the second on the terms of the exchange. This brief statement does no more than sketch a way of thinking about these issues. To clarify what is at stake, it stresses the analogy between exchanges of personal care and exchanges of babies. Let us call this class of transactions risky exchanges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBaby Markets
Subtitle of host publicationMoney and the New Politics of Creating Families
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780511802379
ISBN (Print)9780521513739
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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