Affiliation: School of Information and Library Science
Parents continue to decline or delay immunizing their children resulting in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease across the United States. Efforts to profile these parents struggle to find demographic consensus or create a consistent profile of which parents make these problematic decisions. These parents are often assumed to be under the sway of misinformation, exacerbating the division between them and healthcare providers. Research about this population typically studies the behavior in isolate and in relation to the mainstream view where it is normative to vaccinate one’s children.
This dissertation, a grounded theory embedded chronological case study of a vaccine-avoidant mommy blogger, describes a worldview where vaccination avoidance and delay is normative and documents related behaviors and beliefs that accompany not vaccinating one’s children. This was accomplished using multiple methods, particularly inductive coding, memoing, quantitative and qualitative content analysis, bibliometrics, and digital ethnography. Data streams included seven years of blog posts, videos, comment threads, information citations, artifacts endorsed or created by the blogger, and an assessment of family resemblances between the blogger and her digital peer network.
From the data emerged a theoretical model that overlapped with Ludwik Fleck’s theory of thought collectives and Elfreda Chatman’s theory of information poverty. The findings include a set of family resemblances observed in the data and artifacts and assessed against a network of nearly 90 other cases. The findings include bibliometric evaluation of the information the blogger cited and discussion of her information behavior and how information operates within her worldview, where vaccine avoidance and delay is normative.