Roi Livne, UM Sociology

Values at the End of Life: Toward a Sociology of Economization
Roi Livne

Description

Semester: 
Fall 2018
Lecture Time: 
Friday, September 7, 2018 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Lecture Location: 
R0220 Ross School of Business
Introduced By: 
Sarah Gordon

Abstract

Over the past forty years, “the end of life” has become the center of extensive economic, policy, ethical, and medical discussions. Health economists measure and evaluate its cost; ethicists debate the morality of various approaches to “end-of-life care”; policymakers ponder alternative “end of life”-related policies; and clinicians apply a specialized approach (hospice and palliative care) to treat patients whom they diagnose as being at “the end of life.” This talk analyzes the proliferation of conversations on “the end of life” as emblematic of a peculiar moment in human history. Ours is a period where modern growth stagnates and the main challenge developed societies face becomes delineating the limits of human agency and governing populations within these limits. Drawing on a combination of historical and ethnographic analysis of the work of palliative care clinicians in three California hospitals, I analyze how the limits of what can be done, medically and financially, to prolong life are communicated to severely ill patients and families. I use this empirical case to flesh out different dimensions in the concept of economization, which has recently attracted much theoretical attention in economic sociology.

Recording & Additional Notes

Roi Livne is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan. He received his PhD in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2016. An economic sociologist at heart, he studies everyday economic life and its somewhat awkward intersections with morality. His book, Values at the End of Life: The Logic of Palliative Care is forthcoming this February in Harvard University Press. The book develops a historical and ethnographic account of the deeply personal relationships between financial considerations, emotional attachments, and moral arguments that motivate end-of-life decisions in American hospitals. Livne’s other research is on the techno-politics of sovereign debt management. He has published in the and Socio-Economic Review.