Vaccination has long been a central tool in the management of infectious disease – though it is not without associated controversy and resistance. The COVID-19 pandemic has served to enhance and reconstitute debates surrounding vaccination. This Collection aims to provide a sociological analysis of the breadth of social and cultural issues surrounding vaccination. The scope encompasses studies of existing issues as well as emerging trends and welcomes papers with an international focus.

Discussion about vaccine hesitancy is well rehearsed, but there are further questions to be asked about the role of vaccines and vaccination in people’s understanding and management of risk in everyday life and how the decision to vaccinate is related to their identity and social positioning. The papers may refer to risk and its assessment in the context of uncertainty and ignorance. They may also contribute to a better understanding of the role of confidence, trust, intuition, hope or faith in everyday life assessment of vaccines and vaccination decisions. The discussion of the different forces shaping organized social resistance is also relevant, as are the socio-historical underpinnings of such movements. The Collection additionally wishes to include analysis of social risk communication and discourses in the public sphere, such as the media and social media, how these might influence vaccination and vaccination hesitancy, and how vaccination has become politicized. Furthermore, research may investigate the governance of disease, the scientific development and commercial manufacture of vaccines, relationships with the state and regulatory systems, or how vaccine research and dissemination programs are organized and delivered, including the influence of healthcare professionals. The global context of vaccination will also be a major theme, including the socio-cultural influences affecting international vaccine provision and the inequities of vaccine distribution.

Contributors should position papers within the broader sociological theorising on risk and beyond, including but not limited to:

  • Socio-cultural
  • Governmentality/biopolitics
  • Risk society
  • Edgework
  • Systems theory
  • Actor network theory
  • Intersectional
  • Post-colonial

The concept of pharmaceuticalization might also be utilized to analyze the driving forces shaping or constraining the nature and extent of vaccine development, availability, and coverage. Submissions using qualitative and quantitative methods are welcomed, as is methodological reflection on the challenges of researching vaccination and associated stakeholders.

Keywords: Sociology of vaccination; sociology of risk and uncertainty; pharmaceutical industry; childhood vaccination; COVID-19; vaccine hesitancy; vaccination resistance; trust; sociology of pandemics; globalization.

This Collection is part of the Gateway on the Sociology of Health, dedicated to open research on the social, economic and cultural aspects of health, illness and treatment.

Any questions about this Collection? Please get in contact directly with Esther Fagelson (