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Pure Gold for Broken Bodies: Discursive Techniques Constructing Milk Banking and Peer Milk Sharing in U.S. News


Symbolic Interaction

Published online on


Technological advances provide increased ability to transfer human tissues—blood, organs, milk—from one body to another. This article analyzes mechanisms of reality construction in U.S. news to construct shared human breast milk. Articles used typifications and human interest stories to convey participants as victims, lay heroes, and villains. Milk banking was portrayed as institutionally integrated through associations, expert testimonies, and formalized procedures, making banked milk “pure gold.” Peer sharing was portrayed as institutionally opposed through institutional warnings, expert testimonies, informal procedures, and hypothetical atrocities, making peer milk “fool's gold.” Findings suggest that “biovalue” of human milk is interconnected with institutional processing.