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Health development meets the end of state socialism: visions of democratization, women's health, and social well-being for contemporary Russia.

Authors
  • 1
Type
Published Article
Journal
Culture, medicine and psychiatry
Publication Date
Volume
24
Issue
1
Pages
77–100
Identifiers
PMID: 10757210
Source
Medline

Abstract

As development organizations undertake the task of improving the public health in former socialist states, their interventions are shaped by a particular cultural logic and predetermined frame of possible action. In the context of local encounters, however, they often confront competing interpretations of a society's prevailing needs. How they manage such differences may not only explain the outcomes of a given project, but may also reveal the capacities and limitations of development agencies to engineer post-socialist change. This article examines a recent WHO project in St. Petersburg, Russia, which defined women's "social well-being" as a local health concern. While the project employed a discourse of "democracy" to promote women's empowerment in the clinic, its parameters of intervention neither incorporated local knowledge nor addressed the structural relations underlying clinic-level conflicts. Two kinds of results ensued: the ideology of democracy was rejected, while WHO's recommendations were partially appropriated as profit-making strategies.

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