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10 November 2021 - 10 November 2021

3:30PM - 5:00PM


  • FREE

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CELLS webinar

The Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences (CELLS) is delighted to host a webinar with Dr Mark Flear, Reader, School of Law, Queen's University Belfast.

Mark's paper is titled: Towards further dialogue between law and science and technology studies: Reflections on expectations as techniques of legitimation and imagined futures through global bioethics standards for health research.  The abstract for the paper is set out below, and also at the registration page for the seminar.

The webinar relates to a recently published article in the Journal of Law and Biosciences: Expectations as techniques of legitimation? Imagined futures through global bioethics standards for health research

The webinar is scheduled for Wednesday 10 November at 15.30.  Prior registration is required to attend. Register by clicking this link.


In this paper, I reflect on my recent article and wider special issue in Journal of Law and the Biosciences (co-edited with Richard Ashcroft), to argue for further law-led engagement with concepts and ideas popular in science and technology studies (STS) and cognate disciplines. To advance this argument I focus on expectations or strong beliefs about what can occur, and the imaginaries they construct, and how they can be shaped by organizations and used by them as techniques for public legitimation of their governance and regulatory activities. 

 The case study for the discussion are the expectations framing 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. There is an attempt to bolster legitimation through communication of expectations and transparency to show practices are in accordance with them (i.e. expectations are met). 

 This example demonstrates how engagement with concepts and ideas drawn from STS and cognate disciplines helps to widen space for fresh examination and illumination of key issues in legal and sociolegal studies, including the boundaries of responsibility and accountability, legitimacy and legitimation. This law-led discussion in turn provides a basis for developing discussion within STS and beyond such that it moves from (as tends to be the case) critique towards solutions.