Enveloped Lives: Practicing Health and Care in Lithuania

Abstract

This article analyzes informal medical payments that the majority of Lithuanians give or feel compelled to give to doctors before or after treatment. It focupraspaluskiene-imageses on how patients and their caretakers encounter, practice, and enact informal payments in health care and how these payments create a reality of health care that is not limited to an economic rationality. Within such a frame, rather than being considered a gift or bribe, it conceptualizes these little white envelopes as a practice of health and care. The article shows how an envelope of money given to a doctor transcends the material patient–doctor transaction and emerges as a productive force for coping with illness, medical encounters, and misfortunes.

 

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