I am pretty sure you are all aware of the big vaccine debate, and there are tons of articles in the news about the issue. We decided to discuss the issue in our next #DiversityJC, but trying to avoid politics views about it, but scientific view. For that, we are going to discuss the following article:
Neoliberal Mothering and Vaccine Refusal:
Imagined Gated Communities and the Privilege of Choice
Jennifer A. Reich
University of Denver, USA
Abstract: Neoliberal cultural frames of individual choice inform mothers’ accounts of why they refuse state-mandated vaccines for their children. Using interviews with 25 mothers who reject recommended vaccines, this article examines the gendered discourse of vaccine refusal. First, I show how mothers, seeing themselves as experts on their children, weigh perceived risks of infection against those of vaccines and dismiss claims that vaccines are necessary. Second, I explicate how mothers see their own intensive mothering practices— particularly around feeding, nutrition, and natural living—as an alternate and superior means of supporting their children’s immunity. Third, I show how they attempt to control risk through management of social exposure, as they envision disease risk to lie in “foreign” bodies outside their networks, and, therefore, individually manageable. Finally, I examine how these mothers focus solely on their own children by evaluating—and often rejecting—assertions that their choices undermine community health, while ignoring how their children benefit from the immunity of others. By analyzing the gendered discourse of vaccines, this article identifies how women’s insistence on individual maternal choice as evidence of commitment to their children draws on and replicates structural inequality in ways that remain invisible, but affect others.