Vaccine Anxieties: Global Science, Child Health and Society

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Earthscan, 2007 - Medical - 201 pages
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This book explores how parents understand and engage with childhood vaccination in contrasting global contexts. This rapidly advancing and universal technology has sparked dramatic controversy, whether over MMR in the UK or oral polio vaccines in Nigeria. Combining a fresh anthropological perspective with detailed field research, the book examines anxieties emerging as highly globalized vaccine technologies and technocracies encounter the deeply intimate personal and social worlds of parenting and childcare, and how these are part of transforming science-society relations.It retheorizes anxieties about technologies, integrating bodily, social and wider political dimensions, and challenges common views of ignorance, risk, trust and rumour - and related dichotomies between Northern ?risk society? and Southern ?developing society? - that dominate current scientific and policy debates. In so doing, the book reflects critically on the stereotypes that at times pass for ?explanations? of public engagement with both routine vaccination and vaccine research. It suggests routes to improved dialogue between health professionals and the people they serve, and new ways to address science-society relations in a globalized world.

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In Vaccine Anxieties, Melissa Leach and James Fairhead argue that the anxieties many parents have about immunization in different parts of the world cannot be simply alleviated just by more effective communication on the value of science and technology to conquer infectious disease and ignorance. That the problem is often not primarily about providing information or even building of trust, but of learning to engage parents and communities, and to appreciate this dialogue as a resource rather than a duty or a constraint to efforts to promote the acceptance of vaccines.
The lessons about dialogue can be applied to other areas of health care.
Neil Cameron Public Health Medicine, University of Stellenbosch
'One of the most insightful and compelling analyses of a modern public health paradox.' Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet


Analysing Vaccine Anxieties
Body Body Politic and Vaccination in the UK
Arguing MMR in the UK

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About the author (2007)

Melissa Leach is a social anthropologist and Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, UK. She is Director of the ESRC Centre for Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS). James Fairhead is Chair in Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex, UK.

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