Organ Trafficking: The Construction of a Social Problem in Israel
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The research aim is to examine whether organ trafficking is a "social problem" (Blumer, 1971; Spector and Kitsuse, 1977, 2001) in Israel, and if so how it became one. Applying construction of social problems theory including the process of making claims, the study examines the social forces that impacted the legislative process and restrictions regarding organ donations in Israel. Three data collection methods were applied in this research: content analysis of official documents from various legislative processes and court hearings as well as newspaper articles review; in-depth interviews of various stakeholders, activists pro and against related legal practice; and participant observations of medical professionals and administrators involved in organ transplantations. The main question was the degree of fitness of the process to Blumer's (1971) model and how well it follows the different stages of the development of social problems. The results show correspondence to the model and its modifications. The data sustain the claim that an interest group's access to power resources (i.e., government activities and media accessibility) is a crucial part of the social problem successful development. The data also demonstrate the following: First, the religious aspects emerged as a powerful factor in claim making. This factor may be unique to the Israeli society, which considers itself a home for the Jews. The religious parties opposing the government interest to promote and increase organ donations from the dead are most powerful claims-making groups, which influence the government activities and shape the day to day life in Israeli society. Second, globalization emerged as another influential factor. Due to the globalized nature of organ trafficking and its legal form of organ donations, comparisons to other countries were frequently done throughout the different stages and the claim making processes. As globalization has penetrated all aspects of life, its prominence is also evident in organ trafficking as it is in other recent social problems discourse. The implications of these findings for social policy will be discussed.