Contextualizing Anti-Vaccination Movements. The Covid-19 Trauma and the Biomedicalization Crisis in the United States


The paper outlines a sociological perspective on the healthcare system in the United States from a perspective of biomedicalization processes. Methodologically, the argument pays its intellectual debts to the American tradition in the sociology of health and illness in which problems of healthcare and individual well-being are discussed in the functionalist context of axiological and normative regulation. Our article focuses on the biomedicalization crisis as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. The outbreak is conceptualized as a trigger of structural tensions already implicit in the American system of biomedicalized healthcare. Rather than focusing on the political polarization of the US society in the wake of the outbreak, the paper sees the pandemic in terms of ‘cultural trauma’ and related political conflicts which threaten to destabilize the discourse and organization of healthcare in the United States. The salient role in this process is attributed to anti-vaccination movements which abuse the pandemic situation to subvert the principles of biomedicalization. In the case of the Covid-19 pandemic, anti-vaccination movements are disseminating misinformation and anti-vaccination sentiments, effectively channeling the public’s dissatisfaction with the implemented methods of crisis management and undermining the pivotal principles of biomedicalization.   


anti-vaccination movements; biomedicalization; Covid-19; risk; trauma

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Published : 2023-12-29

BurzyńskiT. (2023). Contextualizing Anti-Vaccination Movements. The Covid-19 Trauma and the Biomedicalization Crisis in the United States. Review of International American Studies, 16(2), 89-104.

Tomasz Burzyński
University of Silesia in Katowice, Faculty of Humanities  Poland

Dr. Tomasz Burzyński, an academic at the University of Silesia in Katowice, holds Master’s degrees in Psychology, Literary Studies, and Sociology from the same university. He earned his Doctoral degree in Humanities in 2009. His research spans cultural studies, sociology of risk, theories of trust, and discourses of health and illness. A lecturer in Sociology, Media Studies, and Cultural Studies, Burzyński has contributed significantly to academic literature, with notable publications in the field of cultural theory and risk management. His works include “Systemic Intertextuality: A Morphogenetic Perspective,” co-authored works on the sociological aspects of automotive heritage, and studies on public management of technological risks, among others.

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