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Resistance in health and healthcare

Resistance in health and healthcare

Essex, Ryan ORCID: 0000-0003-3497-3137 (2021) Resistance in health and healthcare. Bioethics, 35 (5). pp. 480-486. ISSN 0269-9702 (Print), 1467-8519 (Online) (doi:

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In this article I will introduce and outline the concept of resistance as it relates to health and healthcare. Starting with a number of examples of action, I will then turn to the broader literature to discuss some conventional definitions and related concepts, outlining debates, controversies and limitations related to conceptualising resistance. I conceptualise resistance broadly, as any act, performed by any individual (or collective) acting as or explicitly identifying as a healthcare professional, that is a response to power, most often in opposition to contentious, harmful or unjust rules, practices, policies or structures. Practically this could account for any public action, marches, sit-ins and civil disobedience, but also forms of ‘everyday resistance’, such as working slowly, feigning sickness, or even providing care for marginalised groups that would otherwise not have access. Such action could go unrecognised by those in power and perhaps more contentiously, those resisting needn’t even recognise their actions are resistance. I will then apply this conceptualisation to explain action which has been undertaken by healthcare professionals, identifying the key features of this action. In many respects this conceptualisation of resistance is a first step in better understanding what is remarkably common form of action pursued by healthcare professionals. I will briefly discuss future directions for inquiry that appear particularly pressing. These including ongoing conceptual development, identifying the functions of resistance in healthcare along with what makes it distinct from healthcare as usual and other forms of resistance and finally, the range of normative questions resistance raises.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: resistance, protest, non-violent resistance, healthcare, health
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development > Centre for Professional Workforce Development
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2021 10:22

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