Voluntarism and civil society in the neoliberal era: a study on the palliative care movement in Kerala

  • R. Santhosh
Research Paper


Locating itself within the debates on state-civil society relationship in the neoliberal era, this paper analyzes the community-led palliative care movement in Kerala and explores the nature of civil society participation and state patronage that made this movement highly successful in the state. The paper explains how civil society organizations including religious groups play pivotal role by providing volunteers and ensuring resources from the community for the everyday functioning of this movement aimed at providing palliative care to the terminally ill. The paper discusses the curious scenario where this initiative could persuade the state to replicate this model and incorporate it in the health delivery system of the government, thereby making Kerala the first state in India with an official palliative care policy and statewide support system in place. While discussing the specific socio-historic context that facilitated increased involvement of civil society organizations in the welfare programs in conjunction with the state in Kerala, the paper suggests that this experiment complicates the understanding of a neoliberal welfare state and highlights the necessity to analyze the local level manifestations of neoliberalism in different socio-political settings.


Neoliberalism Civil society Palliative care Religion Kerala 


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Copyright information

© Institute for Social and Economic Change 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesIIT MadrasChennaiIndia

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