Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Gift Relationship

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 06 April 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2078
  1. Parita Mukta, associate professor, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick
  1. Parita.Mukta{at}

Richard Titmuss’s book The Gift Relationship, first published in 1970, became a foundational text on the ethics and organisational principles governing healthcare and social policy. Read and reread by at least three generations of public policy makers, health professionals, health advocates, and researchers, the book continues to provoke and engage us to explore more deeply how each society decides how it meets the health needs of its citizens.

The Gift Relationship was written as a response to MH Cooper and AJ Culyer’s 1968 monograph The Price of Blood, which appeared under the imprimatur of the free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs. The Price of Blood argued that there was a role for competitive markets …

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