Comparing Forms and Degrees of Critique
Ontologies of Vaccine Criticism
This paper presents an analytical tool designed to evaluate the degree and type of divergence between a dominant orthodox discourse and that of heterodox actors who criticize it. This method of discourse analysis consists in a breaking down and classification of its different parts. It is grounded in Boltanski’s conception of critique and in analytical sociologists’ breaking down of social reality. By summarizing these differences in simple tables, the method proposed greatly facilitates comparisons of the discourses of a great variety of actors. To show the heuristic power of this tool, I apply it to the controversy that emerged in France in 2009-2010 over the safety of the pandemic flu vaccine. I present the social and medical ontologies on which these various critiques are grounded and their varying degrees of radicalism.
Asprem E and Granholm K (2012) Contemporary Esotericism. Sheffield: Equinox Pub.
Atlani-Duault L and Kendall C (2009) Influenza, anthropology, and global uncertainties. Medical Anthropology 28(3): 207–211.
Atlani-Duault L, Mercier A, Rousseau C, et al. (2015) Blood Libel Rebooted: Traditional Scapegoats, Online Media, and the H1N1 Epidemic. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 39(1): 43–61.
Blume S (2006) Anti-vaccination movements and their interpretations. Social Science & Medicine (1982) 62(3): 628–642.
Blume S (2017) Immunization: How Vaccines Became Controversial. Islington: Reaktion Books.
Boltanski L (2011) On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation. Cambridge: Polity.
Boltanski L (2014) Mysteries and Conspiracies: Detective Stories, Spy Novels and the Making of Modern Societies. Cambridge: Polity.
Borraz O, Gilbert C and Joly P (2007) Risk Studies: The French Contribution. Journal of Risk Research 10(7): 899–904.
Bourdieu P (1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bourdieu P (1998) The State Nobility: Elite Schools in the Field of Power. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
Callon M, Lascoumes P and Barthe Y (2011) Acting in an Uncertain World: An Essay on Technical Democracy. Boston: The MIT Press.
Chateauraynaud F, Debaz J and Fintz M (2011) La dose fait-elle toujours le poison ? une analyse sociologique des mondes de la recherche et de l'expertise à l'épreuve des faibles doses. Paris: ANSES.
Chateauraynaud F, Debaz J and Fintz M (2014) Chemical substances on the frontiers of health security: Metrological controversies over endocrine disruptors and low doses. Social Science Information 53(4): 437–452.
Colgrove J (2006) State of Immunity: The Politics of Vaccination in Twentieth-Century America. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Conis E (2014) Vaccine Nation: America's Changing Relationship with Immunization. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Dean J (1998) Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Dingwall R, Hoffman LM and Staniland K (2013) Introduction: why a Sociology of Pandemics? Sociology of Health & Illness 35(2): 167–173.
Douglas M (1990) Risk as a Forensic Resource. Daedalus 119(4): 1–16.
Douglas M and Wildavsky A (1983) Risk and Culture: An Essay on the Selection of Technological and Environmental Dangers. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Dubé E, Vivion M and MacDonald NE (2015) Vaccine hesitancy, vaccine refusal and the anti-vaccine movement: influence, impact and implications. Expert Review of Vaccines 14(1): 99–117.
Fassin D (2011) The politics of conspiracy theories: On AIDS in South Africa and a few other global plots. Brown Journal of World Affairs 17(2): 39–50.
Giddens A (1991a) Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
Giddens A (1991b) The Consequences of Modernity. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
Goldberg RA (2008) Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Harambam J and Aupers S (2015) Contesting epistemic authority: Conspiracy theories on the boundaries of science. Public Understanding of Science 24(4): 466–480.
Hedstrom P (2005) Dissecting the Social: On the Principles of Analytical Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hedström P and Bearman P (2009) The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hobson-West P (2007) 'Trusting blindly can be the biggest risk of all': organised resistance to childhood vaccination in the UK. Sociology of Health & Illness 29(2): 198–215.
Inglehart R and Welzel C (2005) Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jasanoff S and Kim S-H (2015) Dreamscapes of Modernity: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and the Fabrication of Power. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Johnston RD (2004) Contemporary anti-vaccination movements in historical perspective. In: Johnston RD (ed) The politics of healing: Histories of Alternative Medicine in Twentieth-Century North America. New York: Routledge, pp. 244–271.
Kata A (2010) A postmodern Pandora's box: anti-vaccination misinformation on the Internet. Vaccine 28(7): 1709–1716.
Leach M and Fairhead J (2007) Vaccine anxieties: global science, child health and society. London: Earthscan.
Marres N. (2015) Why Map Issues? On Controversy as a Digital Method. Science, Technology & Human Values 40: 655-686.
Nichter M (1995) Vaccinations in the Third World: a consideration of community demand. Social Science & Medicine 41(5), 617-632.
Moulin AM (1991) Le Dernier langage de la médicine: histoire de l'immunologie de Pasteur au Sida. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
O'Neill O (2002) A Question of Trust: The BBC Reith Lectures 2002. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pipes D (1999) Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Poland GA and Jacobson RM (2011) The Age-Old Struggle against the Antivaccinationists. New England Journal of Medicine 364(2): 97–99.
Sherlaw W and Raude J (2013) Why the French did not choose to panic: a dynamic analysis of the public response to the influenza pandemic. Sociology of Health & Illness 35(2): 332–344.
Stoczkowski W (1999) Des hommes, des dieux et des extraterrestres: éthnologie d'une croyance moderne. Paris: Flammarion.
Streefland PH (2001) Public doubts about vaccination safety and resistance against vaccination. Health Policy 55(3): 159–172.
van Heur B, Leydesdorff L and Wyatt S (2013) Turning to ontology in STS? Turning to STS through 'ontology'. Social Studies of Science 43(3): 341–362.
Ward J.K (2016) Rethinking the Antivaccine Movement concept: A case study of public criticism of the swine flu vaccine's safety in France, Social Science and Medicine 159(3): 48-57.
Waters AM (1997) Conspiracy Theories as Ethnosociologies: Explanation and Intention in African American Political Culture. Journal of Black Studies 28(1): 112–125.
West HW and Sanders T (2003) Transparency and Conspiracy: Ethnographies of Suspicion in the New World Order. Durham: Duke University Press.
Wiese G (1996) Chiropractic's tension with the germ theory of disease. Chiropractic History: The Archives and Journal of the Association for the History of Chiropractic 16(1): 72–87.
Wolfe RM and Sharp LK (2002) Anti-vaccinationists past and present. British Medical Journal 325(7361): 430–432.
Zylberman P (2013) Tempêtes Microbiennes. Paris: Gallimard.
Terms & Conditions
This Science & Technology Studies website ("Site") is owned and operated by The Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies (“Society”). The Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies and its publication Science & Technology Studies are non-profit organizations.
The Society reserves the right to change, modify, add or remove portions of these Terms and Conditions at its discretion at any time and without prior notice. Please check this page periodically for any modifications. Your continued use of this Site following the posting of any changes will mean that you have accepted the changes.
Copyrights and Limitations on Use
Content in this Site, including site layout, design, images, text and other information (collectively, the "Content") is the property of The Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies/Science & Technology Studies and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws, unless otherwise noted. This does not include the articles that remain the copyright of the authors.
Content on this website is protected by Creative Commons license CC BY 4.0. This permits users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the published articles. Using and sharing the content is permitted as long as original materials are appropriately credited.
The Site may contain robot exclusion headers, and by using the Site you agree that you will not use any robots, spiders, crawlers or other automated downloading programs or devices to access, search, index, monitor or copy any Content. The harvesting of postal or email addresses from the Site for purposes of sending unsolicited or unauthorized commercial material, is prohibited. Any questions about whether a particular use is authorized and any requests for permission to publish, reproduce, distribute, display or make derivative works from any Content should be directed to the Science & Technology Studies Assistant Editor.
You may not use the services on the Site to publish or distribute any information (including software or other content) that is illegal; violates or infringes upon the rights of any other person; is abusive, hateful, profane, pornographic, threatening or vulgar; contains errors, viruses or other harmful components; or is otherwise actionable by law. Science & Technology Studies may at any time exercise editorial control over the content of any information or material that is submitted or distributed through its facilities and/or services.
You may not, without the approval of Science & Technology Studies, use the Site to publish or distribute any advertising, promotional material, or solicitation to other users of the Site to use any goods or services. For example (but without limitation), you may not use the Site to conduct any business, to solicit the performance of any activity that is prohibited by law, or to solicit other users to become subscribers of other information services. Similarly, you may not use the Site to download and redistribute public information or shareware for personal gain or use the facilities and/or services to distribute multiple copies of public domain information or shareware.
All trademarks appearing on this Site are the property of their respective owners.
Links to Other Sites
The Site may contain hyperlinks to other sites or resources that are provided solely for your convenience. Science & Technology Studies is not responsible for the availability of external sites or resources linked to the Site, and does not endorse and is not responsible or liable for any content, advertising, products or other materials on or available from such sites or resources. Transactions that occur between you and any third party are strictly between you and the third party and are not the responsibility of Science & Technology Studies. Due to the fact that Science & Technology Studies is not responsible for the availability or accuracy of these outside resources or their contents, you should review the terms and conditions and privacy policies of these linked sites, as their policies may differ from ours.
Last revised: 3 Aug 2020