How Resistance Shapes Health and Well-Being

How Resistance Shapes Health and Well-Being

Original Research

Open Access. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Volume 19, Issue 2

Ryan Essex

Abstract Resistance involves a range of actions such as disobedience, insubordination, misbehaviour, agitation, advocacy, subversion, and opposition. Action that occurs both publicly, privately, and day-to-day in the delivery of care, in discourse and knowledge. In this article I will demonstrate how resistance plays an important (but often overlooked) role in shaping health and well-being, for better and worse. To show how it can be largely productive and protective, I will argue that resistance intersects with health in at least two ways. First, it acts as an important counterbalance to power; undermining harmful policies, disobeying unfair instructions, challenging rights abuses, confronting those who would otherwise turn a blind eye and even holding ourselves to account when simply accepting the status quo. Second, and beyond being oppositional, resistance is a constructive, productive force, that is fundamental to imagining alternatives; new and better futures and perhaps most fundamentally resistance is cause for hope that we are not resigned to the status quo. While there are numerous examples of how resistance has been employed in service of health and well-being, resistance is not always rational or productive, it can also harm health. I will briefly explore this point. Finally, I will offer some reflections on the intersections of power and health and why this makes resistance both distinct and important when it comes to how it shapes health and well-being.
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