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.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Global Technologies, Personal Worlds * Analysing Vaccine Anxieties * Body, Body Politic and Vaccination in the UK * Anxieties over Science: Arguing MMR in the UK * Body, Body Politic and Vaccination in West Africa * Anxieties over Science: Engaging Vaccine Trials in The Gambia * Conclusions * Index
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.
'One of the most insightful and compelling analyses of a modern public health paradox.' Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet 'A remarkable anthropological comparison across continents, this book is about common anxieties and different circumstances as they colour people's lives. The empirical studies at its core show us parents struggling with global science, with stereotypes about ignorance, with the delivery of medical services, all framed by their personal knowledge and experiences. Vaccination offers a brilliant case study for a brilliant exposition.' Marilyn Strathern, DBE, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge 'Is vaccination safe? Is resistance to MMR vaccine ignorant and wrong-headed? Leach and Fairhead offer provocative answers in this richly detailed account of how parents in the UK and West Africa cope with multiple anxieties in immunizing their children. This book should be compulsory reading for anyone concerned with global health and public policy.' Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University 'In this book, Fairhead and Leach have continued productively to develop their earlier ground-breaking work thoroughly integrating the distinct fields of development studies anthropology, and science and technology studies. In this present work, not only have they opened up further dimensions of how diverse global publics encounter and respond to developments promoted in the name of science, they have also drawn attention to the political economy of the discursive construction of such publics, in biomedical research and vaccine innovation and policy.' Professor Brian Wynne, Associate Director, ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics, Lancaster University 'This should be mandatory reading for everyone who believes that new vaccines and better vaccine coverage are fundamental to improving the health of children throughout the world - for without a better understanding of how vaccines are perceived by the parents whose children are being targeted these efforts will continue to encounter needless frustrations.' Sarah Rowland-Jones, Scientific Director, Medical Research Council Laboratories, The Gambia 'Vaccine Anxieties is an exemplar of modern anthropological comparison.' Alison Shaw, Oxford University, UK 'Recommended' Choice