Vaccination, society and the administration of the body: anthropological approaches

Leading researcher: Manuela Ivone Cunha
Research group: Governance, Policies and Livelihoods
Type of project: National project
Status: Concluded
Keywords: Vaccination | Body and health | Uncertainty and risk | Ethnography


Main institution: CRIA
Participant institutions: Universidade do Minho
Funding: FCT
Reference: PTDC/ANT/71637/2006
Starting date: 01-09-07

More information: link

Abstract

Although widely regarded as the global solution for a range of public health problems, the principle of universal vaccination has been destabilised through a changing engagement with immunization. Despite common perceptions that tend to associate non-vaccination with “exotic” locations and incomplete scientific rationality, there have been phenomena of vaccine uptake decline which are at odds with the evolutionary overtones of this framework of understanding. Far from being a residual anachronism deemed to fade away, the emergence of non-vaccination practices is part of wider social transformations that accomodate what appears to be notions of personalised immunity, which are thus set in contrast with the principle of universal vaccination. However, ethnographic research has shown the need to go beyond an approach standing on too static and generalised dimensions of risk perception, science-society relations, and trust of state and global institutions. The way risk enters people’s practical reasoning is mediated through cultural and experiential perspectives, social processes, as well as through the relation to health care providers. Moreover, non-vaccination does not emerge exclusively within the context of episodic vaccine science controversies, which are themselves differently formulated across countries, but it takes today a variety of forms which are insufficiently studied and compared at different levels, national and international. It is our objective to identify the scope of variation in immunization practices and perceptions by developing ethnographic research in a number of settings in two countries (France and Portugal) with different vaccination histories and public engagement with scientific expertise. These settings are diversified along lines of region, ethnicity, systems of ideas bearing on dietary systems, and involve different actors of immunization practices and representations (users from different social and professional milieus, civic associations and grassroots movements, frontline health care providers, and scientific networks). This diversification does not aspire to express statistical representativity, but to identify the key themes that bear upon the acceptability of vaccination as they emerge in different publics. It is intended to characterise the forms and to understand the meanings taken by non vaccination practices by generating context-specific insights that will be drawn together in comparative analysis. This analysis will assess significant commonalities and differences between the way different people engage with immunization, risk, consent, and dissent. It will also develop comparative insights into transformations concerning the administration of the body and into encompassing features of contemporary societies with which such transformations resonate. The kind of comparative framework adopted in this project therefore requires diversified methodological strategies, depending on the contexts approached (see tasks 1 to 6): from archive and historiographic research to participation in webdiscussion groups, from fieldwork anchored on participant observation in different locations, to in-depth, narrative interviews and parental biographies involving interviewees selected from na ethnographic sample constituted through snow-ball techniques.

Researchers from CRIA

IDNamePositionProjTitleProject typeStatus
pub102*Manuela Ivone CunhaPrincipal Investigatorproj3*Vaccination, society and the administration of the body: anthropological approachesNational projectConcluded
pub141*Mónica SaavedraResearcherproj3*Vaccination, society and the administration of the body: anthropological approachesNational projectConcluded
pub188*Virgínia Henriques CaladoResearcherproj3*Vaccination, society and the administration of the body: anthropological approachesNational projectConcluded
pub74*Jean-Yves DurandResearcherproj3*Vaccination, society and the administration of the body: anthropological approachesNational projectConcluded
Other researchers

ResearcherPositionInstitutionProjOutrosTitulo_EN
Susana NoronhaResearcherproj3*Vaccination, society and the administration of the body: anthropological approaches
Maria José Casa-NovaResearcherproj3*Vaccination, society and the administration of the body: anthropological approaches