Mothers and Vaccinations: From Personal Experiences to Shared Representations. A Challenge for Healthcare Authorities


The paper aims at contributing to articulate the relationships between mothers’ vaccination history of their children’s approach to vaccination schedules and mothers’ myths, fears about vaccines, confidence in health authorities, and other sensitive issues found in academic literature (hesitancy, conspiracy, toxic chemicals, autism). While these issues are studied in terms of parents’ individual characteristics (ideas, attitudes, beliefs), the paper aims at showing the socio-cognitive organization of them, in terms of representational field, according to social representations theoretical approach. A convenient sample of mothers with preschool children, hosted in nurseries and kindergartens of an Italian region, was asked to fill a questionnaire with items concerning the abovementioned issues. Descriptive statistics and MCA analysis allowed to show the socio-cognitive organization of mothers’ representations about vaccination and their relationships with children’s vaccination histories. The results show a well-organized representation of the vaccination issues, where clusters of positive vs negative positions are concerning the mothers’ uncertainty (hesitancy) about the vaccination future of their children and the sensitivity to social media as sources of information. Moreover, mothers from low-level education tend to agree on myths, conspiracy, claims for free choice, and social media as primary sources of information, while university mothers tend to disagree. Uncertainty about completing the mandatory vaccination schedule plays the role of hesitancy. Mothers agree on the contents but disagree on the connotative quality of them: university mothers with younger vaccinated children are less afraid of vaccination procedures and less suspicious towards healthcare authorities. Confidence in these authorities, vs conspiracy of pharmaceutical industries, plays a significant role in shaping the mothers’ sociocognitive representational field of vaccinations. Conclusion: The interconnection among representations, mothers’ vaccination history, universalistic values, and doubts about science showed that a socio-psychological approach is a useful tool for identifying the social conditions of the emergence of positive vs negative attitudes.

Carugati F., Selleri P. (2020) "Mothers and Vaccinations: From Personal Experiences to Shared Representations. A Challenge for Healthcare Authorities " Italian Journal of Sociology of Education, 12(3), 113-130. DOI: 10.14658/PUPJ-IJSE-2020-3-6  
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Italian Journal of Sociology of Education
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