PhD student in Sociology, EHESS
Dissertation title: Sociological history of the World Bank’s involvement in the health sector between 1968 and 2005
Under the supervision of Jean-Paul Gaudillière
This research work proposes to analyze the role played by the World Bank in global health from a historical and political-sociology perspective.
It aims to comprehend the transition between two systems of knowledge and action (from international health to global health) around the 1980s and 1990s, and to understand why and how the World Bank, established in 1944, began to become highly involved in the health sector starting in the late 1970s.
The first angle for this analysis is that of the re-composition of the landscape of international organizations (the IMF, OECD, WHO, UNICEF, etc.) and of the institutional strategies adopted in this shifting space. The second consists in questioning the dissemination and international circulation of knowledge and models, and more particularly the articulation of the local and global levels.
The project will combine a historical approach (work on World Bank archives) and field work at several levels. There will first be a study of the trajectories of the “experts” specialized in these questions (World Bank staff or personnel solicited by the institution) and of their circulation in the various international organizations. There will also be statistical work on the whole of the health plans in order to gain better understanding of the meaning of “health” within the institution. Finally, there will be a case study aimed at comprehending the articulation between the local and global levels. The case study will focus on a health plan financed by the World Bank around the 1990s, the explicit goals of which follow up on their 1993 report (decentralization incentives, definition of essential health services, institution of public-private partnerships, development of “safety nets” for the poorest, etc.). It will cover a series of three basic-health-care development plans conducted in Mexico between 1990 and 2009, echoing national plans that had been implemented ten years earlier, aimed at developing essential health services and eliminating inequalities in access to care.