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Int J Health Serv. 2007;37(4):711-33.

Corporate colonization of health activism? Irish health advocacy organizations' modes of engagement with pharmaceutical corporations.

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Department of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork, Ireland.


This article is based on a study that aimed to shed light on the "cultures of action" of Irish health advocacy organizations, and particularly their modes of engagement with pharmaceutical corporations. Debates about what some interpret as the "corporate colonization" of health activism provide the backdrop for the analysis. The empirical dimension of the study involved a survey of 112 organizations and in-depth study of a small number of organizations that manifest diverse modes of engagement with the pharmaceutical industry. The varying modes of interaction are plotted along a continuum and characterized as corporatist, cautious cooperation, and confrontational. Evidence is presented of a strong and growing cultural tendency in Irish health advocacy organizations to frame pharmaceutical corporations as allies in their quests for better health. The analysis of four constitutive dimensions of organizations' cultures of action can reveal the legitimating logics underlying their diverging positions around pharmaceutical industry sponsorship. While the research shows that pharmaceutical corporations have largely succeeded in defining themselves as a philanthropic force and rightful players in Irish health activism, it cautions against a simplistic conclusion that this is evidence of corporate colonization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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