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Social justice, activism and dentistry in the era of #BLM

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D.O.I.
10.1922/CDH_00151Neville05
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Author
  • Patricia Neville

Abstract

The #Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement thrust the dental profession into a period of critical reflection. Whilst there is enthusiasm for
critical reflection and change now, we know from other social movements, like feminism, that this initial phase or ‘wave’ of activity will
subside, hopefully to be replaced by a next ‘wave’. How will we nurture this moment of activism and ensure that this initial energetic phase
of activism and mobilisation transforms into more sustained and sustainable change? This article offers a sociological-ethical framework to
ascertain if dentistry is the progressive and responsive profession it claims to be in the immediate aftermath of the #BLM movement. The
dual theory of justice developed by Nancy Fraser (2001, 2004, 2005) and its distinction of the role played by redistribution and recognition in the pursuit of justice will be used to illuminate the challenges that dentistry and oral health face in this regard. It then plots the
current efforts of the dental profession against the known trajectory of social movements to adjudicate what has been achieved and what
work is yet to be done to ensure inclusion and race-based justice.
Keywords: Ethics, organizations and administrations, justice


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