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Images of Care, Boundaries of the State: Volunteering and Civil Society in Czech Health Care

Rosie Read

Keywords: CZECH REPUBLIC; HEALTH CARE; REPRESENTATIONS OF THE STATE; SOCIALISM; STATE-CIVIL SOCIETY BOUNDARY; VOLUNTEERING; WELFARE

Abstract

This article examines how boundaries of the state are negotiated and projected in Czech health care volunteering. Hospital regimes and the professional care provided by doctors and nurses are widely imagined as a domain of intensified state authority, a legacy of state socialism. I explore attempts by NGO actors, hospitals, and local government officials involved in three Czech volunteer programs to create alternative, non-medicalized forms of patient care as civil society, thereby reproducing the boundary between state and non-state that characterized civil society discourses of the 1990s in the region. Yet unlike those discourses and the anthropological analyses they have informed, this process of boundary making does not constitute the state and civil society as inevitably antagonistic or competitive entities.

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