Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Sociology

Content Description

1 online resource (viii, 278 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Ronald N Jacobs

Committee Members

James R Zetka, Brandon C Gorman


Media discourses, Nationalism, Organ donation, Organ procurement, Organ transplantation, Spain, Donation of organs, tissues, etc

Subject Categories

History | Medical Sciences | Sociology


Spain has been the global leader in organ donation and transplantation since 1992, an achievement that has become a source of national pride, in a country where national symbols are heavily contested. In this dissertation I examine the changing meanings that organ donation and transplantation have acquired in contemporary Spain, focusing specifically on their implications for different aspects of Spanish nationalism. To do so, I employ a modified version computational grounded theory, a mixed-methods approach that combines topic modeling with interpretive analysis, to identify and interpret the narratives around organ donation and transplantation circulated by the Spanish press between 1954 to 2019. To complement this, I qualitatively analyze other documents, such as media messages produced and circulated by the Organización Nacional de Trasplantes (National Organization for Transplants or ONT), and the television show El Viaje de un Órgano (“An organ’s journey”). My analysis identifies three main themes. First, and especially during the earlier days of organ transplantation, the new procedure is represented as a series of interlocking medical, ethico-legal, and organizational puzzles and controversies that are resolved as organ transplantation morphs from a breakthrough medical experiment to a relatively routine medical practice. Second, the Spanish press presents the organ shortage as a moral crusade that different actors -including the press itself- rally behind, circulating narratives of citizen altruism and social solidarity that remind the audience of their duty to care for the needs of unknown strangers. Finally, the media has consistently employed a nationalistic tone when covering Spain’s achievements in organ transplantation and procurement, and since the country became the global leader in the matter, it systematically connects Spain’s success in this area with notions of national unity and state capacity.