Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 47–55 | Cite as

Negotiating “The Social” and Managing Tuberculosis in Georgia

  • Erin KochEmail author
Symposium: Tuberculosis


In this paper I utilize anthropological insights to illuminate how health professionals and patients navigate and negotiate what for them is social about tuberculosis in order to improve treatment outcomes and support patients as human beings. I draw on ethnographic research about the implementation of the DOTS (Directly Observed Therapy, Short Course) approach in Georgia’s National Tuberculosis Program in the wake of the Soviet healthcare system. Georgia is a particularly unique context for exploring these issues given the country’s rich history of medical professionalism and the insistence that the practice of medicine is a moral commitment to society. I argue for critical attention to the ways in which treatment recipients and providers navigate what, for them, is “social” about therapeutic practices and their significance for avoiding biological and social reductionism.


Tuberculosis Global health Social disease Georgia 



I extend my deepest thanks to everyone at the NTP and MSCI in Tbilisi who helped me with my research. The project was supported by a Dissertation Improvement Grant from the Science and Technology Studies Program of the National Science Foundation; the Eurasia Program of the Social Science Research Council, with funds provided by the U.S. Department of State through the Title VIII Program; the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science at the New School for Social Research; and the University of Kentucky. Portions of this article, including ethnographic examples and theoretical analyses, have appeared in previous texts written by the author and published in the journals American Ethnologist and Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness and in the book Free Market Tuberculosis: Managing Epidemics in Post-Soviet Georgia (2013, Vanderbilt University Press). I am responsible for any errors.


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Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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