Book “Navigating uncertainties” launched

At conference in European University St-Petersburg

On November 17th 2017 members of the Participatory Public Health Centre presented the book “Navigating Uncertainties: Health, Technologies, and Politics in Post-Soviet Settings” published recently by Palgrave Macmillan. The presentation took place within a conference in the European University at Saint-Petersburg “The eleventh Exhibition of the Academic Research Achievements (VDNKh)”

During the presentation co-authors of the book discussed content of their chapters and how different chapters align in the overall argument of the book. Post-Soviet health domain is characterized by multiple and profound uncertainties born out of rapid societal transformations, non-transparent and exclusionary decision-making, and instabilities in governance arrangements.

To understand the costs and consequences of these uncertainties we need to study how they are dealt with in practice. The specific focus of the book is on how actors navigate these uncertainties in health care, public health, and research and development and what the implications of their chosen navigation routes are for relations between health, technologies, and politics.

In this book we bring together insights from the two domains of scholarship that, for the most part, have flourished independently from each other: social science, including STS, research on health, technology, and politics and studies of post-socialism concerned with informality (informality is conceived by this group of studies as one of defining elements of post-socialist societies, an instrument used in various forms by the citizens to deal with formal state defined processes and structures where the latter are absent or perceived as inadequate).

The former body of literature has paid little attention to the multiplication of uncertainties related to health, technology, and politics in post-Soviet settings and ways in which they are dealt with, while the latter tended to bracket technology and uncertainties associated with technologies themselves. Through this lens, the book explores what actually happens when healthcare, public health, and research and development spheres are continuously destabilised.

In this way our focus is not so much on policies, regulations, or state regulatory structures. Neither it is solely on day-to-day production of certain health technologies or functioning of a specific healthcare facility or system. Rather the focus is on the interaction between the two and the trade-offs involved.

Members of the presentation audience suggested to consider publishing some of the book’s insights in Russian to make them accessible to more people in post-Soviet settings and to continue the scientific inquiry started with this book.