Accepted paper:

Negotiated moralities behind informal payments: gift or bribe


Bori Fernezelyi (Central European University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper challenges the corruption-gratitude dichotomy that separates the international and local discourse on informal payments in health care, arguing that the multiple moralities operating behind the system can explain not only the individual’s but also the state’s relationship to the phenomenon.

Paper long abstract:

Informal payments in the health care system of the postcommunist states are subjected to a constant dichotomy, while the international corruption discourse lay claim, arguing it is just another form of the abuse of public office for private gain, the local public and politics often interpret it as a recognized form of social interaction. It is especially the case in Hungary, where the term for the phenomenon [hálapénz] translates as gratitude money has a positive connotation and where 52 % of the health care consumers have rather positive attitude toward it and do not consider it as a form of corruption (Baji et al. 2013). Based on an ethnographic study on informal payments in the Hungarian health system between 2012-2013, I argue that multiple moralities lay behind the informal payment relationship. The negotiation between these moralities has a profound effect on not only the individual stand toward the system, but also on the state's relationship to this form of corruption.

panel P009
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