Patient waiting: Care as a gift and debt in the Thai healthcare system

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on fieldwork in Chiang Mai during 2010 and 2012, I examine poor Thais' and Shan migrants' experiences of receiving healthcare from a public hospital, and, in parallel, care from the state. While universal health coverage has become a way in which the state finds legitimacy in people's lives through giving care, being a recipient of state aid is implicated in the emotive domain of waiting. By focusing on how people feel and think of a gift and debt of care, I suggest that flows of affects that loom large in social interactions within the public hospital denote not only poor people's subordinate position but also their effort to achieve a sense of mutuality and moral autonomy. This study contributes to a broader understanding of experiences of paternalism, inequality, and dependence by illuminating people's agentive submission into relations of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-295
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Royal Anthropological Institute.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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