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Emotional Cultures of Anti-Vaccine Websites: The Proliferation of an Unpopular Movement

Eckstrom, Stephanie (2015) Emotional Cultures of Anti-Vaccine Websites: The Proliferation of an Unpopular Movement. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Emotional Cultures of Anti-Vaccine Websites: The Proliferation of an Unpopular Movement
Stephanie A. Eckstrom, M.A.
University of Pittsburgh, 2014

Despite growing public criticism, the anti-vaccine movement continues to influence certain parents in their vaccine-related decisions. This study analyzes three different anti-vaccine websites as tools of social movement organizations that are managed by social movement entrepreneurs who seek the proliferation of the anti-vaccine movement’s preferences (McCarthy & Zald 1977). As tools, anti-vaccine websites are spaces where the normative emotional culture of the social movement is reproduced by the purposeful deployment of emotional framing. Incorporating social movement theory of emotional framing aids in the conceptualization of how and why certain parents may engage with the anti-vaccine movement. Emotional framing is the link that connects the movement, participants, and the larger culture in which the movement is embedded. The characteristics of emotional framing that may particularly resonate with participants are those that incorporate larger, symbolic cultural elements as well as elements that speak to the everyday lived experiences of certain parents. As revealed in my analysis, the emotional culture of anti-vaccine websites is characterized by different degrees of rationality, either independent or layered with negative emotions. The emotion of rationality, whether conceptualized as a lack of affect or communicated through credibility or neutrality, is the most commonly deployed emotion. Incorporating rationality, social movement entrepreneurs demonstrate their capacity to frame website content that resonates through cultural compatibility, using broader cultural symbolism. They also frame website content that may resonate with the daily, lived experiences of certain parents by incorporating guilt, persecution, anger, fear and suspicion. Social movement theory provides a structure to understand how emotions link people and movements together. The outcomes of this study provide additional insight into the current relevancy and proliferation of the anti-vaccine movement in the Unites States.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Eckstrom, Stephaniesae102@pitt.eduSAE102
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairStaggenborg, Suzannesuzstagg@pitt.eduSUZSTAGG
Committee MemberBrush, Lisalbrush@pitt.eduLBRUSH
Committee MemberErlen, Jonathonerlen@pitt.eduERLEN
Date: 9 January 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 20 November 2014
Approval Date: 9 January 2015
Submission Date: 4 December 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 61
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: social movement theory, anti-vaccine movement, emotional framing
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2015 15:49
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:25


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