Discourse Analysis of Health Risk Perceptions. Understanding Public Debates on Childhood Vaccination


Georgiana Ilișanu
Virginia Andrei


Childhood vaccination has become one of the most intensely discussed topics not alone in Romania but other European countries as well. Mass media articles, personal experiences claiming that vaccines have side effects and can even lead to autism have generated various responses among parents and determined various perceptions and assessments of the health risks. Certain groups have emerged in the middle of these confrontational debates: there are those who resist vaccination, advocating that they inflict sufferance on children. Yet others who refuse vaccines because they fear the unknown, along with those who have not made a decision and still search for medical opinion, and those who insist upon gathering more information before deciding whether to get their children immunized etc. Each of these groups perceives and defines the risk in a different way. A discourse analysis of the comments and posts identified on various online platforms from Romania revealed the fact that the individuals who resist vaccination reframe the risk as unknown, while calling for a more informed decision from parents. These individuals do not bring any logical, practical, or scientific argument in order to support their position. Some of them even consider that a mandatory vaccination policy is a characteristic of a totalitarian state thus infringing upon the right of the population to free choice. Another result of our analysis is the fact that the majority of the online debaters tend to perceive the risk of non-vaccination as bigger than the one of vaccination.


Author Biographies

Georgiana Ilișanu, Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, University of Bucharest

Doctoral School

Address: 9 Schitu Măgureanu Street, District 1, 010181, Bucharest, Romania.

Email: georgiana.stamatin@gmail.com

Virginia Andrei, Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, University of Bucharest

Address: 9 Schitu Măgureanu Street, District 1, 010181, Bucharest, Romania.

Email: virginia.andrei22@yahoo.com


How to Cite
Ilișanu, G., & Andrei, V. (2019). Discourse Analysis of Health Risk Perceptions. Understanding Public Debates on Childhood Vaccination. Sociologie Românească, 17(1), 92-113. https://doi.org/10.33788/sr.17.5


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