Back to People's Health in Croatia – Generating new forms of collective agency


  • Snježana Ivčić Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
  • Aleksandar Džakula School of Public Health „Andrija Štampar “
  • Damir Martinović Department of radiology, General Hospital Zabok and Hospital of Croatian Veterans
  • Valerija Žapčić Karika Association


Croatia, public health, comprehensive health care, collective agency, activism


This paper concerns new forms of collective agency in the area of health care in Croatia from 2015 until 2018. These new forms developed in the midst of the growing privatization and commodification of health care and the simultaneous decrease in the accessibility to health care. Privatization has taken place slowly, but continuously over the last 29 years. The traditional civil society organizations in the field of health care used to be characterized by a narrow set of activities, with vertical structures, and were frequently focused on a single-disease approach and collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry. Such practices produced limited results, hence improved forms of activism emerged. In this research, we illustrate their development using the example of three case studies of collective agency. The first case study is looking at the policy analysis and the activist group started by the Organization for Workers' Initiative and Democratization (OWID); the second one focuses on the informal group of medical students called U3 formed at the Andrija Štampar School of Public Health with the aim of developing critical thinking; and the third case study considers the Karika Association, started as an attempt to rethink health care in the community. The main research methods employed included process tracing analysis and research data comparison aimed at showing the differences between the traditional and the new forms of healthcare activism, in addition to the secondary sources of information such as scientific and professional literature. The results show that the new forms of collective agency in the healthcare area include various groups of citizens not necessarily connected with a specific disease, that they have a horizontal structure and are focused on the healthcare system in general. In conclusion, they represent the beginning of a paradigmatic shift in activism from a single-disease approach towards comprehensive health care that has the potential to deal with the growing issue of commercialization, commodification and inequalities in today's healthcare systems.


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Original Research