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Vaccination resistance, religion and attitudes to science in Nigeria

Falade, Bankole Adebayo (2014) Vaccination resistance, religion and attitudes to science in Nigeria. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The 2003 to 2004 revolt against the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) in Nigeria provides a case study for investigating how a new scientific phenomenon becomes part of common sense in a culture with high levels of religiosity. Moscovici’s Social Representations Theory about how society familiarises itself with the unfamiliar provides a framework for the research which includes two media analyses, historical texts, online and paper administered surveys and interviews. The media analyses examine the OPV controversy and science in the media. Correspondence analysis provides a geometric tool for visualising how the variables in both media analyses position themselves for the construction of genres of science news. Factor analysis groups the attitude items in the survey while logistic regression predicts outcomes controlling for other variables. The media analyses found coverage of science in the period under review was generally positive and grew continually. The coverage of the OPV controversy was also generally positive but did not always mirror faithfully public opinion. Just as some Parisians in Moscovoci’s study likened psychoanalysis to a “symptom of an American invasion”, the initial description of the OPV by the people of northern Nigeria was a “western conspiracy against Muslims.” The survey found different levels of trust in public institutions with scientists and religious leaders similarly rated. Pessimism, fear and progress characterise the attitude variables but the association with knowledge is not linear and confirms the influence of cultural values. Interviewees also confirm survey findings in that they simultaneously have faith in religion and in science. Common sense in Nigeria is a mixture of science and religiosity and the public hold both in reverence: a phenomenon Moscovici refers to as cognitive polyphasia. The study also supports Durkheim’s view that science (in Nigeria) depends on public opinion.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Bankole Adebayo Falade
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Sets: Departments > Psychological and Behavioural Science
Supervisor: Bauer, Martin W.

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