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Anthropol Med. 2011 Dec;18(3):339-50. doi: 10.1080/13648470.2011.615912.

'It is only a pinprick': (or is it?): childhood vaccinations in general practice as 'matter out of place'.

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1
Department of Curriculum Research, The Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, Copenhagen NV, Denmark. elverdam@dpu.dk

Abstract

The analysis presented in this paper is part of a larger study, the aim of which is to describe the GPs' everyday taken-for-granted working life. The study is based on multi-sited anthropological fieldwork in Danish general practices. This paper analyses consultations where children are vaccinated and the analysis shows the way these consultations differ from other consultations in relation to flow and communication. Neither parents nor doctors question the value of the vaccination, but the manner in which they talk about it and handle it in the flow of the consultation points to them experiencing it as being problematic. Taking inspiration from Mary Douglas' theory on cultural classification the injection is interpreted as 'matter out of place'. The analysis identifies the infliction of pain and the discomfort this brings to the doctor and the parent as problematic as well as a breach of the doctor-patient relationship. The aim of vaccination is to prevent potential diseases in the future, but its function in the consultation, besides being fulfilment of national guidelines, is not immediately apparent. It has no real function in the consultation and this makes it problematic in the present, causing the ambiguity that both doctors and parents express.

PMID:
22060127
DOI:
10.1080/13648470.2011.615912
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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