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Forskning med juridiska förvecklingar: Om tolkningsflexibilitet i kontroversen om mässlingsvaccination och autism
Institutionen för idéhistoria och vetenskapsteori, Göteborgs universitet.
Institutionen för idéhistoria och vetenskapsteori, Göteborgs universitet.
2009 (Swedish)In: Sociologisk forskning, ISSN 0038-0342, Vol. 46, no 1, 5-27 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Medical research with jurisdictional consequences: interpretative flexibility in the controversy over MMR vaccination and autism

Based on the empirical case of the controversy of MMR vaccination and autism around the turn of the millennium, this paper argues for the analytical importance of the concept of “interpretative flexibility”. As shown, this concept is useful not only for the small subfield of sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) but also for the broader social sciences. First we analyse, by reference to interpretative flexibility, the initial dispute within medical research concerning evidence for and against a possible link between the measles component of the MMR vaccine and autism. In a second step we move beyond this traditional application of the concept, showing how the interpretative flexibility of the research results remains in society although consensus has been reached in the medical community. This further step is exemplified by two legal events, in Sweden and the US respectively. In both these cases the difficulties in providing uncontested evidence affected institutions and practices at great distance and with different outcomes. Our findings suggest the importance of not only applying the concept of interpretative flexibility to classical scientific laboratory disputes, but also connecting it to its societal manifestations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sveriges sociologförbund , 2009. Vol. 46, no 1, 5-27 p.
Keyword [en]
sociology of science, interpretative flexibility, MMR, autism
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-19663OAI: diva2:861151

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