Article ID: CBB742387420

Contracting Health: Procurement Contracts, Total Institutions, and the Problem of Virtuous Suffering in Post-war Human Experiment (2018)


The American medical research industry seemed poised to collapse in the wake of the US civil rights movement because of sudden, sharp restrictions on access to human subjects for medical research. Yet research on healthy people continued to expand, eventually taking a new organizational form with the rise of Contract Research Organizations. This surprising outcome emerged because a set of private religious organizations during the 1950s aligned with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to produce the legal possibility of a sustained, large-scale civilian market for human subjects and, simultaneously, to create the living reality of that market. NIH made novel use of the government ‘procurement contract’ mechanism, and the churches offered a logic of suffering to ‘volunteers’ to make sense of their experiences. Together, they enabled the formal exchange of money for human subjects that anchors medicine in the present day and invites critique beyond the conventional categories of bioethics.

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Article Louise Hide; Joanna Bourke (2018) Cultures of Harm in Institutions of Care: Introduction. Social History of Medicine (pp. 679-687). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Guerrini, Anita
Prescott, Heather Munro
Stephens, Martha
Böhme, Gernot
LaFleur, William R.
Shimazono, Susumu
European Journal for the History of Medicine and Health
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Science, Technology and Human Values
Duke University Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
Indiana University Press
University of Michigan Press
University of Chicago Press
Human experimentation
Medicine and ethics
Biology and ethics; bioethics
Science and ethics
Animal experimentation
Fleck, Ludwik
United States
West Germany
20th century
21st century
20th century, late
Early modern
Cincinnati General Hospital
National Institute of Health (U.S.)

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