46.1 - Conventions, Health and Society

Special Issue - Philippe Batifoulier & Rainer Diaz-Bone (Eds.): Conventions, Health and Society – Convention Theory as an Institutionalist Approach to the Political Economy of Health.

The French institutional approach of economics of convention (“économie des conventions”) – in short EC – has been established as a transdisciplinary movement in the international landscape of the social sciences. Health issues are one of the most virulent research topics in contemporary social sciences and EC has approached health topics for many years. Health research is linked to questions of social inequality, digitalization and categorization, demographic change, and health economics, but also to the pluralism of institutional designs, norms and values related to health politics and health economics, and possible orders of worth.

EC is part of the so called “new French social sciences,” which are critical towards pre-given categories and ontologies. EC focuses on the situational logics of coordination, interpretation, and evaluation, which EC calls “conventions.” One of the main objectives of EC is to regard values as endogenous to coordination and to take the ethical resources of individuals seriously. The health sector is precisely one of those domains in which deontological rules, social values, and the concept of ethics (medical, in this case) are omnipresent. Healthcare and social policy are strongly normative issues and economic analysis cannot ignore it. Because health policies are precisely one of those domains in which coordination, value judgments, and normative considerations cannot be separated, the concept of convention is well indicated to understand neoliberal health policy.

This HSR Special Issue presents contributions by an international field of scholars. This volume is interdisciplinary in character, offering an overview of EC’s contribution to the analysis of health as a social phenomenon. It presents contributions to conventionalist theorizing and methodology in this research field and offers insight into ongoing newer empirical research to cover a wide range of topics such as regulation of expenditures, inequalities, funding priorities, health insurance, hospital management, liberal medicine, digitization and quantification of health, and the place of health in the evolution of capitalism.