Accepted paper:

Big Pharma, vaccinations and the limits of sociality


Ela Drazkiewicz (Slovak Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

Through looking at Irish and Polish debates surrounding vaccinations this paper examines how conspiracy theories impact the ways in which people define sociality. Instead of looking at conspiracy beliefs as abnormality this paper examines them as a regular part of the systems of governance.

Paper long abstract:

Recognising that one of the main stakeholders in vaccination debate is the state, using the examples from Poland and Ireland this paper examines the vaccination refusal from the perspective of biopower, law and social contract. The decision to opt-out from vaccination schemes is usually perceived as an anti-social act. While it is not clear what exactly is the crime of "anti-vaxxers" (legal approaches differ across countries), often they occupy the space outside of the law due to their refusal to participate in preventive medicine, and breaking the solidaritist approach to the society. This paper considers how anti-vaccination movements redefine culturally specific definitions of society, its boundaries, and social contracts. It further examines how they are rendering local identifications transnational.

Secondly, taking into account reactional and contingent nature of conspiratory theorising, this paper also asks about the role of opponents of Big Pharma conspiracy (state, health professionals, researchers) in keeping the beliefs in motion. As such, this paper moves beyond an approach which explains conspiracy theories simply as an expression of mistrust towards the state. Instead, it offers a possibility to examine them as a regular (rather than marginal) part of the systems of governance, and see how they impact the way people define and perform their agency as citizens.

panel P110
Things are not as they seem. Tracing the movements and immobility of conspiracy theories