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Beyond Polarisation: Approaches to vaccination

16. Juli – 19. Juli 2024 

Pan­el at con­fer­ence EASST-4S 2024 „Mak­ing and Doing Transformations”.

„Beyond Polar­i­sa­tion: Approach­es to vaccination”
16–19 July 2024
Ams­ter­dam, the Netherlands
Con­venors: Les­ley Brana­gan (Ham­burg Uni­ver­si­ty), Anna Dowrick (Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford), Rebec­ca Cas­sidy (Uni­ver­si­ty of Kent), Simon Bai­ley (Uni­ver­si­ty of Kent)

Please sub­mit your pro­pos­al here
CfP dead­line: Feb­ru­ary 12 2024

Short Abstract:

Covid’s threat to mod­ern rea­son­ing and sub­se­quent divi­sions are locat­ed in poli­cies, dis­cours­es and expe­ri­ences of vac­cines, polarised into ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ sen­ti­ment. We con­sid­er the inter­play between the promis­es of vac­cines, unex­pect­ed vac­cine expe­ri­ences, and Covid’s threat to ratio­nal order.

Long Abstract:

The Covid pan­dem­ic brought sig­nif­i­cant trans­for­ma­tions in the tech­nolo­gies, roles, gov­er­nance, dis­cours­es and mean­ings of vaccines.

The tech­no­log­i­cal and polit­i­cal promise of Covid vac­cines has left lim­it­ed space for explo­ration of their unin­tend­ed con­se­quences. Dra­mat­ic polar­i­sa­tions of ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ sen­ti­ments result in dis­be­lief, silenc­ing, and exploita­tion of unex­pect­ed expe­ri­ences con­nect­ed to vac­ci­na­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the con­text of vac­cine injury. Sim­i­lar­ly, desire to re-pur­pose vac­cines for oth­er uses, such as treat­ments for Long Covid, has met resistance.

In these respons­es we find a para­dox­i­cal refusal to con­sid­er the spaces and ‘resid­ual cat­e­gories’ (Bowk­er & Star, 2000) between pro- and anti-vac­ci­na­tion, and lim­it­ed engage­ment in the mul­ti­plic­i­ty of what vac­cines ‘do’. How­ev­er, his­to­ries of chang­ing uses of vac­cines as tech­nolo­gies, vac­cine injuries and med­ical-legal reform also show that there are poten­tial sites for con­test­ing these polarised cat­e­gories (Kirk­land, 2016).

We encour­age explo­rations of the broad­er rela­tions between the threat of Covid and the sub­se­quent fail­ures of reflex­iv­i­ty relat­ed to ‘unex­pect­ed reac­tions’ to, with, and about vaccines.

Paper pro­pos­als could consider:

The effects of com­plex­i­ty and uncer­tain­ty upon polar­i­sa­tion, and the para­dox­i­cal ‘hard­en­ing’ of both lay and pro­fes­sion­al per­spec­tives on unex­pect­ed vac­cine reactions;

The tem­po­ral­i­ties and futur­ism at play in promis­es con­cern­ing the unknow­able (Beck­ert, 2016), and the con­se­quent mis­di­rec­tion of vac­cine expec­ta­tions and resources;

The inter­play of polar­is­ing cat­e­gories of risk and threat, trust and mis-trust, and the pos­si­bil­i­ties for nuanced under­stand­ings of agency and vac­cine hesitancy;

The ‘dis­tri­b­u­tion of belief and unbe­lief’ (Dou­glas & Wil­davsky, 1982) rep­re­sent­ed by polarised vac­cine dis­cours­es, and the posi­tion­ing of dif­fer­ent inter­ests (sci­en­tif­ic, pro­fes­sion­al, governmental);

Con­tes­ta­tions of cat­e­gori­sa­tions, through advo­ca­cy, or ‘cit­i­zen­ship work’ (Petry­na, 2004) and the role of nar­ra­tive in medi­at­ing between the ‘counter-fac­tu­al and fac­tu­al’ (Maier, 2004) in the con­text of unex­pect­ed events.