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The Case of the Cake: Dilemmas of Giving and Taking

In my fieldwork at the Cardiology Unit at Vilnius public hospital I encountered what I call “the cake case.” In 2009-2010 I was in Lithuania to study how medical care was transforming as the state embarked on health care reform that aimed to rationalize and privatize public services. In particular, the neoliberal reform projects targeted informal payments, or “bribes,” that …

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Informality as an analytical category in research on healthcare

In November 2013, the Academic Swiss Caucasus Net (ASCN) and the Interfaculty Institute for Central and Eastern Europe at the University of Fribourg hosted a conference that aimed to “identify and compare forms, functions and meanings of informal structures and practices in Eastern Europe and Central Asia” (SOYUZ list-serv, call for papers). In this essay, I comment on conversations that …

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