Vaccination: pro, con and in-between. A cross-linguistic and cross-cultural qualitative interview study on discourse patterns

Project: Research

Project Details


Recently there has been an outbreak of preventable infectious diseases, such as measles and pertussis, in parts of Brazil, the United States, and Europe. The outbreak has been associated with vaccine hesitancy, which is generally regarded as amplified through citizen-to-citizen communication on social media platforms and often associated with conspiracy thinking. Sub-projects of a larger project on this phenomenon have already studied aspects of the use of causal language in anti-vaccination online language (e.g. the use of counterfactual language: … would not have happened), as well as an experimental study testing the influence of both sender (doctor vs. mother-of-three) and language style (scientific/nuanced vs. “conspirational”/simplifying) on test subjects in an intervention study, which found that the intervention lowered the level of perceived dangers of vaccines, but did not affect conspiracy beliefs or vaccination intentions. Qualitative studies of social media posts for Italian and Brazilian Portuguese data are under preparation. The planned study adds another angle to the investigation: it will allow us to collect more extensive data stemming from an individual informant regarding vaccination-related narratives, causal and counterfactual reasoning, epistemic authority negotiation as well as membership categorization. In the dialogue, real-time adaptation of argumentative as well as negotiation strategies might be observed. This could also render differences between the spoken dialogue and online language evident and thereby indirectly highlight the particularities of the online vaccination discourse. Furthermore, questions about a hypothetical COVID-19 vaccine will be asked. Therefore, we also expect more data on counterfactual expressions. Being built upon a subject pool from Denmark, Italy, Armenia and Brazil, the study will furthermore shed light on cross-linguistic and cross-cultural differences of this discourse.
Effective start/end date18/06/202031/12/2022