Building Power Between Polarities: On the Space-in-Between

Qual Health Res. 2016 Feb;26(3):345-50. doi: 10.1177/1049732315609573. Epub 2015 Nov 3.


In this article, I introduce the concept of the space-in-between. This space-in-between is born of the realization that, between the expression of any two polarities (across dimensions such as emotion, thought, geography, and ideology), there exists a philosophical construct useful for framing thinking about practice, research, and managerial relationships in the health professions. Out of this construct emerge practical considerations useful for structuring the conduct of meaningful interpersonal and intercultural interactions. I describe how the idea of a space-in-between developed out of my medical practice, grew as a result of my experiences in international environments. and has found fulfillment in my ongoing work. I explore the application of a space-in-between in public health, medical anthropology, medical ethics, and global health. I review how, as a result of incorporating this space in their daily work, clinicians, educators, researchers, and managers can grow as leaders by sharing the presence that arises from the space-in-between them and the people in the communities they serve.

Keywords: Central America; anthropology; bioethics; global health; philosophy; professional–patient relations; qualitative research; social psychology.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Physician-Patient Relations*