Personal and collective stakes: delegating responsibility and navigating healthcare

Organizers: Anika Jugović Spajić, PhD candidate (University of Pittsburgh), Milica Milić-
Kolarević, PhD candidate (University of Minnesota)

Discussant: Čarna Brković, PhD (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)

This panel examines how structural changes in the provision of healthcare relate to
(re)delegation of responsibilities between various caregiving actors. We seek to contribute to the ongoing debate on competing responsibilities (Trnka and Trundle 2017) by distancing from the constrictions of the neoliberal governmentality framework. By approaching responsibility as a heterogeneous mode of ethical and social engagements, we aim to observe processes of making claims about responsibility as they are enmeshed in a variety of relationships of care and cooperation. As the state's involvement in welfare provision diminishes in neoliberalism, the involvement of private sector and civil society rises (Brković 2017; Cabot 2016; Muehlebach 2012; Rivkin-Fish 2005; Rylko-Bauer and Farmer 2002). With this process, entangled negotiations of who is responsible for care and when, how and under which circumstances, proliferate and gain increased salience.

Drawing on Foucault’s work on technologies of the self, responsibilization is commonly defined as the redelegation of responsibility from the state onto the individuals to govern themselves (Burchell 1993; Foucault 2000; Rose 2006) and to govern their own access to healthcare (Maskovsky 2000). However, responsibility becomes understood in numerous ways and is not characteristic of one form of governance (Hage and Eckersley 2012; Rose 2006; Trnka and Trundle 2017). The interdependence between forms of governance and various ideas about personal, collective, and institutional responsibility directly affects particular mechanisms of subject formation and the emergence of novel ways of being a citizen.

Such an approach reveals the intricacies of everyday life, since it allows us to look at how people use opposing notions of responsibility simultaneously and without feeling conflicted, depending on the context and power relations at play (Kleinman 2006; Zigon 2011). Everyday moral “balancing acts” that happen in the face of social and economic transformation are indeed practices through which moralized forms of subjectivity and citizenship are constituted and (re)shaped.

We are seeking papers that engage intellectual possibilities of responsibility in the contexts of (health)care provision and caregiving practices. We especially encourage papers which utilize responsibility as an analytical tool while maintaining a critical perspective and inspecting its conceptual limitations.

Please send 250-word abstracts to Anika Jugović Spajić ( and Milica Milić-
Kolarević ( by May 8th. Those who are selected will be expected to upload their abstract information by May 15th, 2020.