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Sociology professor finds three distinct themes in anti-COVID-19 vaccination protest slogans

When the Biden administration introduced COVID-19 vaccine mandates on Nov. 4 for companies with 100 or extra workers, protests erupted in cities throughout the U.S.

A current examine of the slogans displayed by protestors discovered three distinct themes.

Tim F. Liao, a professor of sociology on the College of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, analyzed the content material of 150 photographs with anti-vaccination themes that have been printed on-line by information media between the day of the announcement and Jan. 13, the day after the U.S. Supreme Court docket blocked the federal vaccine-or-test mandate for big companies.

Utilizing a well-liked search engine, Liao positioned and picked up photographs containing textual content with the key phrases “anti-vaccine,” “protest,” “U.S.” and “America” and grouped them primarily based on comparable messages or intents.

Liao discovered that three main themes emerged: Help for particular person freedom/rights, opposition to authorities management, and anti-science misinformation or disinformation.

Whereas misinformation might comprise incorrect or debunked materials, it’s not deliberately misleading, whereas disinformation accommodates purposely false allegations which might be supposed to deceive or mislead shoppers, in line with the examine.

“The vast majority of the slogans opposing COVID-19 vaccines have been about evenly divided between assertions of particular person rights and resistance to authorities management, which composed 46% and 44% of the pattern, respectively,” mentioned Liao, who additionally holds appointments in statistics and East Asian languages and cultures on the college.

“The remaining 10% of the slogans contained anti-science misinformation/ disinformation akin to false claims concerning the security or origin of the vaccines or conspiracy theories.”

A number of the widespread slogans within the first two classes have been “my physique, my selection,” “medical freedom” and “cease the mandate,” Liao discovered.

Among the many disinformation slogans within the pattern have been false declarations that the vaccines have been poison, identified to trigger seizures and never placebo-tested, Liao discovered.

It is essential to notice that slogans asserting particular person rights and resistance to authorities management could also be two sides of the identical coin, as people who strongly imagine in private liberties are prone to oppose any insurance policies that they understand as infringing on these liberties.”

Tim F. Liao, professor of sociology, College of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Likewise, people who imagine disinformation are extra possible to withstand a mandate and assert the primacy of private rights, he mentioned.

Barely greater than 67% of the U.S. inhabitants was absolutely vaccinated – outlined as having obtained two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine – by the point Liao accomplished the examine on Might 24, in line with the examine.

Printed within the journal Frontiers in Communication, the examine sheds mild on the feelings of people that oppose vaccinations typically or perceived authorities overreach, in addition to the ability wielded by propaganda and misinformation in undermining public well being directives.

In response to the continued proliferation of misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines, the World Well being Group issued a warning that the “infodemic” of inaccurate data poses as nice a threat to public well being because the illness itself, in line with the WHO web site.

Some researchers have referred to as for “psychological inoculation” – informational campaigns that put together folks to determine and disrespect false and deceptive messages concerning the vaccines, in line with the examine.

With new omicron variants circulating and fewer folks carrying masks in public, vaccination is changing into the primary protection in opposition to the illness, Liao wrote.

“Anti-science misinformation should be vehemently corrected,” Liao mentioned. “The one manner ahead is to appropriate the misinformation and disinformation about vaccinations and for the federal authorities to emphasise every particular person’s civic duties – which embrace vaccination – for the good thing about society and our collective future.”


Journal reference:

Liao, T.F., (2022) Understanding anti-COVID-19 vaccination protest slogans within the U.S. Frontiers in Communication.

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