Solidarity and Community Engagement in Global Health Research

American Journal of Bioethics 20 (5):43-56 (2020)
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Abstract

Community engagement (CE) is gaining prominence in global health research. A number of ethical goals–spanning the instrumental, intrinsic, and transformative–have been ascribed to CE in global health research. This paper draws attention to an additional transformative value that CE is not typically linked to but that seems very relevant: solidarity. Both are concerned with building relationships and connecting parties that are distant from one another. This paper first argues that furthering solidarity should be recognized as another ethical goal for CE in global health research. It contends that, over time, CE can build the bases of solidaristic relationships—moral imagination, recognition, understanding, empathy—between researchers and community members. Applying concepts from existing accounts of solidarity, the paper develops preliminary ideas about who should be engaged and how to advance solidarity. The proposed approach is compared to current CE practice in global health research. Finally, the paper briefly considers how solidaristic CE could affect how global health research is performed.

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