Download Full Text (1.0 MB)
Using narrative methods, this professional paper provides a rhetorical criticism of an anti-vaccine community called, VaxTruth. This analysis will aid in understanding why anti-vaccine narratives are so persuasive and what they offer people who join anti-vaccine communities. To explore this phenomenon I first look at the affordances of the Internet, how it encourages participation, which spreads misinformation, pseudoscience, and conspiracy theories. Understanding how actions through the Internet become rhetorical acts, I turn to rhetorical theories of counterpublics and exigences, which also aids in finding the outcomes of anti-vaccine discourses. Current findings show meta-narratives of government conspiracy theories that break away into micro-narratives of individual experiences. Anti-vaccine storytelling online provides Internet users with both a sense of fear and hope. Fear that parents will be responsible for the death or injury to their child if they do chose to vaccinate; hope that being a part of the anti-vaccine community and sharing their stories will persuade parents not to vaccinate, thus saving as many children they can.
10th Annual GCUA Graduate Research Symposium
Anti-vaccine; Affordances; Counterpublics; Exigence; Storytelling; Narrative criticism
Family, Life Course, and Society | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology and Interaction
Willes, Stephanie, "A Narrative Criticism of Online Anti-Vaccine Stories of VaxTruth" (2019). Graduate Research Symposium (2018 - present). 3.