Sick Children. How massmedial and personal experiences are woven together

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the end of the 1990ths came alarming reports that the vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) could cause autism. The discovery about the connection was told in mass media all over the world and in Europe the vaccination frequency decreased with several percent. In some areas less than 90% of the children were vaccinated, a limit that calls “herd immunity”. In interviews with parents, who either have hesitated to vaccinate or have not vaccinated, have several causes for their view been uplifted. One important reason is that you want to keep nature going. Another reason is the meeting with sick children. These meetings might have been through mass media or in real life, and they have had consequences for personal choices. This article discuss why these children have been so important and how medial and real children become integrated in people’s handling of risks – for example the choice between the risk of your child getting measles and the risk of the vaccine’s side-effects. At another level the article discusses how medial and personal experiences are woven together and together shape a foundation for people’s opinions and decisions. Mass media work as a filter for what stories about biotechnology that are told. The filter is built on our cultural norms and values. And as a filter it has influence on people’s thoughts since it tells certain stories, but not others. But the media stories are put together with the private life situation and the personal outlook of life. Consumption of media’s stories about biotechnology is at the same time a kind of production of private stories about biotechnology. Experiences from media and life merge and create new stories.


  • Malin Ideland
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ethnology


  • mass media, risk, MMR-vaccine
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-71
JournalEthnologia Scandinavica
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch