Controlling the Uncontrollable! Danish Citizens’ Attitudes Towards the COVID-19 Vaccination Program – A Qualitative Case Study Employing the Lens of Bourdieu’s Practice Theory
Author(s): Malene Missel, Camilla Bernild, Ida Elisabeth Højskov, Selina Kikkenborg Berg
Background: Vaccination is an effective choice to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccine hesitancy may, however, be a threat to global health. What is structuring and at stake regarding citizens’ attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination in a society is not yet well understood. The aim was therefore to assess how the attitudes and beliefs of Danish citizens regarding the offer of a COVID-19 vaccine are expressed to make us wiser as to why people have the attitudes towards the vaccination program that they have.
Methods: The study was designed as a qualitative case study including 25 citizens from different parts of Denmark and with different sociodemographic backgrounds. Data were collected through individual interviews and analyzed and interpreted through the lens of Bourdieu’s practice theory; the focus being especially on structures, habitus and capital within a health field.
Findings: The findings highlight structures that regulate vaccination attitudes in the individual in which perceptions of being included or excluded in the logic of the state are particularly relevant. The individual’s usual social network seemed to have less structuring importance for their attitudes for or against COVID-19 vaccination. Participants’ health habitus was challenged by COVID-19 vaccination, and it had an impact on their attitudes whether they considered health, illness, and body as an individual or collective responsibility. The collection of health capital and positioning in relation to COVID-19 vaccination attitudes was essential, for which, however, unequal dispositions and conditions for the acquisition of knowledge were decisive.
Conclusions: A belief in vaccination as a way out of the pandemic is seen in citizens who share the basic truth of the state, while holding attitudes against vaccination excludes individuals from community and society. Vaccination is for some citizens of no meaning, and they perceive receiving a vaccination as being made sick, while others highlight a collective responsibility to get vaccinated. Those who have the relevant capital, in the form of expert opinions and knowledge from highly educated people in their close social network, receive support from a collective capital, while other citizens might lack the right to express and act in relation to different approaches to knowledge.