That’s just what’s expected of you … so you do it’: Mothers discussions around choice and the MMR vaccination

Johnson, Sally and Capdevila, Rose (2014). That’s just what’s expected of you … so you do it’: Mothers discussions around choice and the MMR vaccination. Psychology & Health, 29(8) pp. 861–876.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2014.892940

Abstract

One of the major shifts in the form and experience of contemporary family life has been the increasing insertion of the 'expert' voice into the relationship between parents and children. This paper focuses on an exploration of mothers' engagement with advice around the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Much of the previous literature utilises a ‘decision-making’ framework, based on ‘risk assessment’ whereby mothers’ decisions are conceptualised as rooted in complex belief systems, and supposes that that by gaining an understanding of these systems, beliefs and behaviour can be modified and uptake improved. However, less attention has been paid to the ways in which mothers negotiate such advice or the ways in which advice is mediated by positionings, practices and relationships. Analysis of data from a focus group with five mothers identified three themes: 1) Sourcing advice and information, 2) Constructing ‘Mother knows best’ and 3) Negotiating agency. Despite the trustworthiness of advice and information being questioned, an awareness of concerns about the MMR, and health professionals being constructed as remote, ultimate conformity to, and compliance with, the ‘system’ and ‘society’ were described as determining MMR ‘decisions’.

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