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Private within the Public: Negotiating Birth in Serbia

Pantovic, Ljiljana (2019) Private within the Public: Negotiating Birth in Serbia. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation is about trust, authority, social personhood, and the importance of everyday negotiations that take place within a shifting health care landscape. Specifically, this was an ethnographic inquiry, grounded on twelve months of fieldwork, of how maternal care is provided in a low-income Eastern European country, Serbia. Maternal care is the case study for understanding how the previously exclusively public health care system is slowly unbundling along the seams of the different levels of care and thus opening new avenues for interventions by the private sector. While previous studies focused on the civil sector and informal economy, private medical sector has been an invisible avenue in the studies of informality. The private sector is not just reserved for elites, nor has it, as some scholars of Eastern European public health predicted, ended informal economies such as those expressed through the concept of “connections” (veze).
The starting point in this dissertation was the concept of “negotiating,” as a signal for looking at the practices and intersections of seemingly fixed dimensions, such as private and public, formal and informal, trust and mistrust; and how through the articulation of these seemingly fixed binaries we gain insight into how a health care system actually works. I looked at the sites of negotiations to understand the importance of sociality and social personhood within health care systems thus demonstrating that while the public health care system is being disarticulated in segments, neoliberal reforms are not replacing them but reconfiguring them. The selective privatization of maternal care has generated new avenues for (re)negotiating trust and authority between patients and providers, and thus contributed to reshaping the health care landscape. My work shows how patients and medical providers, in different but mutually congruent ways, leverage the emerging private medical sector as brokering strategies with and within the public health institutions.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Pantovic, Ljiljanaljp34@pitt.eduljp0000-0002-2018-9643
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHayden, Robertrhayden@pitt.edurhayden
Committee MemberMatza, Tomastomas.matza@pitt.edutomas.matza
Committee MemberMusante, Kathleenkmdewalt@pitt.edukmdewalt
Committee MemberLukacs, Gabriellalukacs@pitt.edulukacs
Committee MemberTerry, Marthamaterry@pitt.edumaterry
Date: 20 June 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 8 March 2019
Approval Date: 20 June 2019
Submission Date: 22 February 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 223
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: health care systems, Serbia, medical anthropology, anthropology, maternal care, pregnancy, birth
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2019 16:57
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2019 16:57


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