Accepted Paper:

Neo-liberalization of moral networks of care: Transformation of the role of primary caregivers in public hospitals in Turkey  

Author:

Basak Can (Koc University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how Turkey’s integration into moral neoliberal order (i.e. commercialization of healthcare and a greater reliance on the family) restructures the role of the family caregivers as well as the reciprocal networks of care between the patient, the patient’s kin and medical apparatus.

Paper long abstract:

All inpatients in public hospitals of Turkey are expected to have a refakatci i.e. primary caregiver staying with them at every stage of medical intervention and treatment. Refakatci, who is usually a female relative, attend not only the emotional and personal care needs of the patient, but also technical and material needs of treatment such as providing basic medical equipment and hygiene conditions. It is through their exhausting labor-intensive and intimate caring practices that the patient encounters biomedical apparatus, and experiences her illness. Day-to-day operations of hospitals are dependent on refakatci labor as well. This paper explores practical, emotional, and political dimensions of the gendered, institutionally taken-for-granted care labor of refakatcis for their loved ones in hospital settings. Rather than juxtaposing different logics of care and reproducing the intimate vs. medical dichotomy, this paper traces material, technological and medical forms of intimate care provided by refakatci in a medical care setting. Against the backdrop of Turkey's rapid integration into moral neoliberal order that not only brings about commercialization of healthcare but also causes a greater reliance on local networks of social support primarily that of the family; the figure of refakatci provides an important analytical lens to understand collaboration between different modalities of care and novel configurations of dependency and reciprocity between the patient, the patient's kin, and medical apparatus. This paper thus seeks to underscore the inseparability of the cognitive, evidence-based medical processes from embodied, material and intimate processes, and how they are interwoven in the practice of refakatci.

Panel P091
Cross-cutting care and care across cuts: dimensions of care in contexts of crisis and social change