Fall 2021 Colloquium - Elena Conis

Elena Conis headshot

Elena Conis, School of Journalism, UC-Berkeley

Title: Vaccination and its Historical Documents

Abstract: Hesitancy and resistance to vaccination is more common than not in U.S. history. This talk will explain how and why public attitudes toward vaccination have changed over time, with an emphasis on twentieth and twenty-first century trends. Many age-old vaccination objections—including those grounded in religious beliefs, secular values, political ideology, and distrust in powerful interest groups—have persisted for more than two hundred years. But the modern era of vaccination, which dawned in the 1950s, is unique for its emphasis on compulsory vaccination of children, the visibility of so-called anti-vaccine views, and the often-overlooked but historically unprecedented acceptance of mandatory vaccination of the youngest citizens. This talk will place trends in the modern era of vaccination in the context of issues related to the nuclear family, economy, health care, and federal politics. It will also discuss how shifting social values, environmental concerns, gender roles, the valuation of children, and the relationship between secular and religious values inform vaccination skepticism. Finally, it will consider how today’s vaccination discourse and behaviors both echo and depart from historical trends in vaccination resistance and acceptance. 

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Start date
Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, 3:35 p.m.
End date
Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, 4:30 p.m.
Location