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The current frailties of the Romanian health care system are often explained by resorting to the previous regime’s institutional framework, rarely accepting that they are also the product of post-1990 reforms and the neoliberal means of system reconfiguration. This paper provides an ethnographic account of the ways in which two “products” of these reforms actively contribute to the augmentation of private medical services and to the diminishing access to quality care in the public system: the bureaucratization of primary medicine and the “dual medical practice”. More specifically, I use the concept of “informal exchanges” in order to explore the variety of transactions that occur between patients and the health care staff and to document the means through which its main social actors understand, reproduce, legitimize or blame the very existence of these practices. Then, I analyze how referrals to private medical units increasingly replace informal payments, simultaneously laying even harder obstacles in the access to health care for those in need.
The present paper challenges the dominance of the digital natives’ agenda and turns its attention to the social context in which Internet usage among adolescents occurs. Findings indicate that even when young people are using the Internet with the same frequency, i.e. every day, the differences among them remain significant. Therefore, it can be argued that considering an entire cohort to be similar in terms of Internet use only due its age is a misconception. The way children make use of the Internet and the gratifications they gain after using it depend, as van Dijk (2005) showed, on the quality of access, on the level of skills, and on the personal (e.g. Experience, self-efficacy, confidence) and positional resources (e.g. Age, gender, socio-economic status). Questioning the main determinants that lead to the most advanced way to make use of the Internet, the logistic analysis shows that, in order for a Romanian adolescent to turn into an experienced user once he or she embedded the Internet in his or her everyday life, is a matter of skills, experience, and time online, and is less a matter of socioeconomic background. However, we have to keep in mind the previous path analysis’ findings, which emphasize that online experience, time spent online, self-efficacy, and digital skills are all determined, through direct or indirect effects, by demographic variables (i.e. age, gender and socio-economic status), even when age is held constant (Fizesan [Balea], 2012).