Expectations as Techniques of Legitimation? Imagined Futures Through Global Bioethics Standards for Health Research

Mark L. Flear*

*Corresponding author for this work

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I argue that expectations or strong beliefs about what can occur, and the imaginaries they construct, can be shaped by organizations and used by them as techniques for public legitimation of their governance and regulatory activities. I advance this argument by reference to the International Council on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH). The expectations and imaginary flowing from the ICH’s mission and framing, ‘harmonisation for better health’, support a focus on technological development for the production of safe, quality, and effective pharmaceuticals and individual ethical conduct to achieve it. The expectations also marginalize wider systemic issues relating to social justice, particularly those affecting the global South. The central role of scientific-technical knowledge and expertise to harmonization abets the latter by minimizing the value to governance of public knowledges on systemic issues. Instead of ensuring the contribution of these knowledges to governance through public participation, there is an attempt to bolster legitimation through communication of expectations and transparency to show practices are in accordance with them (ie expectations are met).
Original languageEnglish
Article numberlsaa086
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Law and the Biosciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2021

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  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Law
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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