Understanding expectations as techniques of legitimation: the case of imagined futures through global bioethics standards for health research.
Expectations or strong beliefs about what can occur 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 (i.e. that expectations are met).