Jamee Moudud and Abbas Daoruang ’17

When Semesters End, the Work Continues

With a heightened awareness of the politics of health care here in the US, Abbas Daoruang ’17 examined perceptions versus realities in Sweden’s health care system for his conference project with political economy professor Jamee Moudud.

In a previous course with Jamee, Abbas had compared public health policy and practices in Sweden with those of his native Thailand. Through that work, Abbas discovered there was much more to Sweden’s image as an enviable example of public health care than most of the world recognized.

Digging In

“Many in the US see Sweden as a socialist country to some degree,” Jamee explains. “Yes, they maintain a very generous welfare state, and there is a health care system in place … but there’s also more to the story. Abbas and I discussed how countries—when they face budget shortfalls—tend to privatize public services. Sweden wasn’t going in the direction of Reagan or Thatcher in response to their issues, but how would they balance their social perspective with their economic reality?”

“My goal was to debunk what I called the ‘mirage’ of Sweden,” Abbas says. “Specifically, I wanted to focus on the process of privatization in the Swedish health care system and the contradictions that process creates. Is that privatization part of a broader structural trend, or just an isolated case?”

Crossing Borders

As Abbas finishes his senior year at Sarah Lawrence College, he recognizes how his approach to learning has evolved. “It’s part of the culture here: you start to think much more critically. I ask really different questions now than I would have in my first year, and that has a big impact on how I research.”

Abbas found Jamee’s support invaluable throughout the project, but also appreciated how Jamee encouraged him to follow his own path: “Even as he acts as a mentor and guide, he allows me space to have my own interpretation and encourages me to find my own research. The approach is not hands-off, but at the same time, it’s not stifling. It’s a great balance.”

Jamee adds, “If you truly want to understand something, you have to be ready to cross boundaries—including disciplinary boundaries. Abbas took what he learned in one class, and pursued his curiosity into the next one, too.”