Over the last twenty years or so there has come a growing awareness of a segment of the population that resists vaccination. I set out to find out who was in this “anti-vaccination movement” and why they make the choices they do. In my research, I spoke to more than 200 parents and found that most of these people are not “anti-vaccine” and that most of them do give at least some vaccines to their children. Many of these parents are simply making a vaccine-by-vaccine risk analysis, and deciding that some vaccines are riskier than they can accept, relative to the disease, while others are not. Their risk analyses are affected by their participation in the type of diverse, translocal community that Paul Rabinow calls a biosociality. Further, their vaccine decisions may also be related to their own personal notions of what it means to be a good citizen. These findings all suggest that labeling parents as “anti-vaccine” is erroneous and that improving the conversation about and the culture of vaccination is a much better way to improve vaccination rates and public attitudes toward vaccination. There will always be parents who do not wish to give any vaccines to their children, and there will always be people with reasons for which they should not be vaccinated. However if these reasons are recognized and respected and not dismissed as being a part of an anti-vaccine, anti-vaccination movement, then parents who are on the fence regarding vaccination may be more likely to give more vaccines, even if they do not give every vaccine.


Tierney, Thomas


Sociology and Anthropology


Anthropology | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Medical Education


vaccines, vaccination, biosociality, risk analysis, ethnography

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2014 Cole Grabow