1st Edition

A Sociological Perspective on Blood Plasma Donation During the Pandemic Convalescent Gifts and Liminality

By Jae-Mahn Shim, Seung-Hyun Baek Copyright 2025
    144 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Shim and Baek examine the evolving existential meanings of gift-making by interviewing donors of convalescent blood plasma during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The book reveals what plasma donation means for their efforts to reassemble their lives from being liminal moments to livable experiences, through interviews with convalescent donors in South Korea. It shows the very multiplex meaning of plasma donations that enabled people to effectively manoeuvre through the challenging liminality in life during Covid-19 by expanding the existing literature of gifts and donation that highlights the rich, complex meanings of the body parts donated. It presents a vivid dialogue between liminality and gift-making from varied narratives.

    A vital read for scholars, students of sociology, anthropology, and public health and those interested in how subjects reconstitute their agency amid uncertainty inside and outside the pandemic, so that we appreciate the voices of donors and learn from the lived experiences of those in this book.


    1. Ways of Liminality

    2. Turning Liminal

    3. Plasma Donations

    4. Life Reassembled



    Jae-Mahn Shim is Professor of Sociology at Korea University.

    Seung-Hyun Baek is a Chief of Resource Mobilization & Public Relations Center at the Korean National Commission for UNESCO.

    “This book is an important contribution to the sociological study of pandemics and life-saving bodily donations as well as medical uncertainty and even human uncertainty more generally. It also has the distinctive merit of bringing new questions and new theoretical insights to research on liminality, gifts, and the relation between them. This book convincingly highlights processual, time-related, and intertwined dynamics of illness, liminality, and gifts, which we can only hope will inspire similar explorations of various types of life-saving donations in other national contexts and possibly enrich research on gift-giving in other spheres of social life.” (Ilana F. Silber, Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Bar-Ilan University, Israel; Coeditor-in-chief of the journal MAUSS International)

    “This book offers an incredible opportunity to examine classical sociological theory in the context of the pandemic. It provides invaluable insights for those who recognize the potential of future global-scale infectious diseases. It is also a perfect example of how qualitative research can significantly enhance our understanding of the human experience during the interruption of everyday life caused by COVID-19. The authors successfully demonstrate the immense power of semantic theory construction through cultural interpretation, contextualization, and capturing multiple dimensions of lived experience, ultimately revealing the dynamic and emergent nature of social reality. With its insightful analysis and practical advice, readers will be empowered to take control of their lives and make a positive impact on the world.” (Jaeyeol Yee, Professor of Sociology at Seoul National University, S. Korea)