Ideological Constructs of Vaccination

Dr Richard House presents a detailed analysis of this important PhD-turned-book by Dr Mateja Černič

The need for an informed academic analysis and assessment of the vaccination phenomenon has surely never been more urgent at this time of global, mass, Covid vaccination.

The densely academic book is up­dated from Slovenian research sociologist, Dr Mateja Černič’s 2014 PhD thesis. Černič subjects vaccination to a relentless, forensic examination, based on a rich combination of sociological critique, detailed historical trend analysis and medical and biological research; and she finds the practice of vaccination to be woefully inadequate at many levels. In my view, this book represents a vital intervention into the unfolding global conversation about mass vaccination and it deserves the widest possible publicity.

Vaccination is variously trumpeted as being medicine’s ‘greatest achievement’ but, for Černič, these claims are little more than ‘ideological constructs’ that have gained pervasive, cultural legitimacy because of the enormous social, political and economic power of vaccination’s promoters. Ideological Constructs of Vaccination paints a disturbing picture of how ‘captured’ states and scientific and medical institutions have been colonised by the ‘Pharma-Industrial Complex’ in late-modern society.

The book is a logically ordered, meticulously researched work, giving access to the kind of information about vaccination that is largely absent from mainstream sources. A specifically academic deconstruction of vaccination ideology has long been needed, exposing to critical scrutiny the latter’s narrow, pharmaceutically driven conception of disease and ill-health. The bookalso confirms what philosopher of science, Paul Feyerabend, said about the insipient authoritarian tendencies of modern science.

Framed by an Introduction (1) and a Conclusion (4), Part 2 contains sophisticated discussions of the notions of discourse, ideologies, power and the abuses of medical and state power, creating a theoretical backdrop to the main study. Part 3 then consists of 11 major sections, as follows: 

(1) The decline in mortality from infectious diseases; (2) Adjuvants; (3) Immune system; (4) Side-effects of vaccines; (5) Safety and efficacy studies; (6) Vaccine contamination; (7) The work of paediatricians; (8) Adverse effect monitoring system; (9) Integrity of state in­stitutions; (10) ‘Herd immunity’ and ‘harming other people’; and (11) Merger between science and pharmaceutical industry.

Detailed historical analyses of the mortality time trends for each of 10 infectious diseases are given, along with major discussions of the toxic effects of aluminium in vaccines; the immaturity of the infant immune system; injuries to the brain and nervous system; autism; a critique of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation; vaccines as agents of infections; and the economic and political power of the pharmaceutical industry. The book contains 40 de­-tailed tables and 12 graphs constructed from official statistics (USA, UK and Australia) and nearly 500 references.

Ideological Constructs is emphatically not lightweight, ‘anti-vax’ populism, replete as it is with fully evidenced and compelling academic argument that any dispassionate reader will be forced to take seriously.

Ideology, discourse and power: sociological perspectives

For Černič the claims made about vaccination are ‘ideological constructs’, not scientific realities, having gained their scientific and cultural legitimacy through the overwhelming positional power that vaccination’s promoters possess and deploy. ‘Globally, vaccination enjoys the status of “a sacred cow”’, with ‘the necessity and… benefits of vaccination [having] practically gained the character of “a natural law”’, with discourses striving ‘to become dominant and hegemonic, restricting and discrediting other, alternative discourses and promoting themselves as the representation of the absolute and final truth’.1 This will be familiar fare to those witnessing the unfolding media, scientific and political ‘regime of truth’ surrounding the Covid vaccine treatments.

The notion of ‘ideology’ is defined as ‘the interest-driven constructs of reality that are realized by means of social power at the expense of other and different constructs’ (p11). Černič ‘collect[ed] the statements on vaccination and vaccines made by official institutions, [and subjected] them to a thorough analysis and testing on the basis of scientific studies and official state statistics’ (p12) – a much-needed exercise, given that vaccination as a cultural phenomenon ‘has been able to avoid, almost completely, any critical reflection by the professional public’ (p14).

In relation to ‘discourse’, Černič argues that ‘the truth… is reproduced through the discourses of the existing power [configurations in society]’. Discourses define who is conferred the authority to pass judgements or give opinions about a phenomenon: they strive to become dominant and restrict/discredit other, alternative discourses (pp16, 19-20). The doctrinal nature of modern medicine is highlighted – with doctrine ‘bind[ing] individuals to certain types of enunciation and consequently forbid[ding] them all others’2 (p23) – with ‘unanimity, obedience and an absence of autonomous and critical thinking’ being demanded and expected (p25).

For Černič, then, ‘All knowledges are inevitably products of social relations…. Knowledge is not a universal, independent entity’ (p27) – meaning that social and historical circumstances are crucial in considering claims to knowledge and their legitimacy – and with ‘The task of ideology [being] to protect certain practices as universal and self-evident….’ (p29). Ideologies also conceal their true nature by presenting themselves as ‘common sense’ (p30), with modern medicine seen as ‘a form of secular religion’ (p31).

Read the complete article in issue 105.

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