We’ve all heard the story of the misinformed, gullible parent who willfully puts their children at risk by refusing to have them vaccinated. But what actually bothers people about vaccines and vaccinations? And how can these concerns be culturally and socially understood?
In her book Anti/Vax, Penn State College of Medicine professor Bernice Hausman sets out to reframe the controversy by taking vaccine dissent seriously. Her book traces how the narrative of the misinformed anti-vaxxer got established in the media and subsequently places a critical eye on that narrative.
“The project required taking a neutral stance on the issue in order to understand vaccine dissent in a context where it makes sense rather than representing it as an anti-science nonsense,” Hausman explains in the talk linked below.
Her research shows that vaccine dissent is profoundly varied, not always reactionary, and often rooted in profound existential questions: "Can we control nature? Is disease prevention the same as health? Can I dissent? Whom can I trust?" Zombie films and fiction also play a big part.
Watch or listen to Bernice Hausman talk about the vaccine controversy. For more, read her op-ed from last year entitled "Stop telling anti-vaxxers they're insane for questioning vaccines" or check out the book.