Maria Denisova

Building Private Health Care Spaces in Russia: Organizational-Epistemic Assemblages of Care

Department of Health, Ethics & Society, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, [email protected]

Supervisors: Prof. Klasien Horstman, Dr Olga Zvonareva


I am a sociologist by training. I obtained my BA in Sociology from the Higher School of Economics (Moscow, 2019) where I also worked as a junior researcher in the Laboratory of Economic Sociology. I obtained my MA in Sociology and Social Anthropology from Central European University (Budapest, 2020). My main research interests are studies of (health)care and medicine, informal economies, and ethnographic methods.

Summary PhD Project

The marketization of health care was largely criticized by scholars for increasing inequalities and excessive profit-orientation. While these critical studies were mainly performed in the “West”, we lack insight into how new private health care practices relate to care and knowledge in other Eastern-European settings. Russian health care that was suddenly penetrated by market forces provides a unique opportunity to observe marketization in action. So far, most studies of Russian health care have been only focused on the institutional, economic, or political dimension in public health care, while the epistemic dimension of health care transformations has not been studied yet. Recently, more and more private clinics started to claim to follow the principles of evidence-based medicine (EBM) and bring better care. Historically EBM has not been a part of the Soviet and later Russian medical system and has been recently become an issue of political concern.

In my research, I combine three bodies of literature – STS, organization studies, and informality studies – to follow the organizational and epistemic practices of private clinics in Russia. I study different private clinics by deploying ethnographic methods. I show how private clinics dwelling on disruptions of the Russian health care infrastructure use their private spaces to practice what they call EBM. The configuration of private spaces allows managers and medical professionals to improvise to meet the requirements of formal regulations, use foreign medical guidelines and knowledge of recent academic articles, and navigate patients within ambiguous health care infrastructure.

This research is part of a larger Marie Curie Network “MARKETS” about the development of new markets in Eastern Europe and the role of informality in these developments.


Doletskaya, O., Denisova, M., Dorofeeva, O. (2021). A Responsible Worker and a Caring Mother: Experiences of Russian Commercial Surrogates. In Infrastructure, Morality, Food and Clothing, and New Developments in Latin America. Research in Economic Anthropology, 41, pp. 33–53 (in print).