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Accepted Paper:

Imagined Futures and Resistance to Official Expertise during the Covid-19 Crisis: A Content Analysis of the Anti-Vaccination Discourse in Romania  

Author:

Simona - Nicoleta Vulpe (Interdisciplinary School of Doctoral Studies, University of Bucharest)

Paper short abstract:

Between governmental measures for COVID-19 and Constitutional Court’s decisions delegitimizing such measures in Romania, anti-vax actors aim to instil resistance to medical expertise and political decisions. Online narratives link past, present and plausible futures to defy regulations.

Paper long abstract:

The late modern society has placed a great emphasis on responsibility and accountability as values that should govern social conduct during crises. Recent events caused by the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted social life, leaving us prey to the uncertainty. Health risks are increasingly pressing, and predictions regarding the availability of an anti-coronavirus vaccine are rather discouraging. Under these circumstances, anti-vaccination actors try to assign responsibility by denouncing experts’ manipulation of information, governmental policies of surveillance and control, and the politically and commercially profitable haste of the current process of developing the vaccine. Through a content analysis of Facebook posts from a Romanian anti-vaccination page, I discuss the role of imagined futures in justifying anti-vaccination stances and assigning responsibility for the management of the COVID-19 crisis. As opposing mandatory vaccination in particular and official medical expertise in general are positioned both as an individual act and a political act, its meaning is sustained in a narrative that links past, present, and plausible futures. I observe a shift in discursive strategies made by users during 2020, after the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional the governmental measures for managing the pandemic. I discuss the role of this shift in anti-vaccination and anti-coronavirus instigations and also in valuing the political efficacy of resistance to official medical expertise.

Panel Irre10a
Temporality and (ir)responsibility within crises I