Social life of health policy: an anthropological inquiry into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and HIV/AIDS care in Atlanta, Georgia
Malik, Fauzia Aman
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The purpose of this thesis is to ethnographically explore the social life of health reform policy. This thesis focuses on the Ponce Center, a safety net HIV clinic in Atlanta. The thesis engages with a fragmented healthcare world, and the inhabitants of these worlds who are charged with rectifying the fragmentation and make care possible. They are, in technical language, service providers, whether they are policy-makers, patients, or political activists. In order to make the healthcare and policy worlds functional, the AIDS community in Atlanta perceive their first task as attempting to connect aspects of the fragmented healthcare assemblage that are otherwise disparate. The core theme of this thesis is articulations, translations, and piecing together aspects of everyday life particularly with regard to various ways of contending with fragmentation. This thesis explores the relationship between the affective, ideological, physical and structural dynamics of inequality, poverty, vulnerability, identity, and a sense of community and belonging. This thesis is about the policy processes. It does not focus on policy-making, but policy interpretation, implementation, and enactment in Atlanta, Georgia. The thesis tracks the appropriation and contestation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a site of interaction between the experience of HIV as a pre-existing condition, inequitable access to treatment through health insurance, and larger social policy and poverty discourses. Finally, it considers the processes by which major policy reforms draw in disparate actors, who are embedded in complex networks of power and resource relations – assemblages - and inevitably play a role in reshaping society.