The Global Context of Vaccine Refusal

Subject: Immunology
Pages: 2
Words: 581
Reading time:
3 min

Closser, S., et al. (2016). The global context of vaccine refusal: Insights from a systematic comparative ethnography of the global polio eradication initiative. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 30(3), 321-341. Web.

The case study under review explores the public response to polio vaccination in seven African as well as Asian countries with the help of systematic comparative ethnography. This methodology lies in applying a common study design, including methods, questions, and other, to several research sites. Such an approach enables collecting the data that are both diverse and possible to compare by particular pre-defined criteria (Closser et al., 2016). Therefore, it has an apparent advantage over traditional comparative ethnography, notably, smoothing the probable methodological differences that can limit the validity of an investigation.

Classical comparative research is based on analyzing the outcomes of several studies that frequently use different methodologies. Therefore, the comparison itself is normally “not built into the design” of the project, but added post factum on the initiative of the investigators (Closser et al., 2016, p. 323). Those, accordingly, do not coordinate the questions to answer in the course of their research, neither the methods they apply. Furthermore, in some cases, the researchers only begin their cooperation after doing all of the necessary fieldwork. Consequently, focuses, scopes, and methods may differ substantially from one study to another, which can even make a comparison senseless.

Meanwhile, systematic comparative ethnography presupposes developing a research scheme in advance to follow at each site. Closser et al. (2016) highlight that an approach of such a kind simplifies identifying and explaining the cognitive and behavioral dissimilarities between the populations. The sites are chosen relying upon their ability to address the key questions that actually involve the comparative component. The following step is applying identical methods to each location, so that the resulting data are easy to analyze systematically. This procedure allows for a maximal correspondence of the outcomes to compare, hence an improved ethicalness of the research.

One of the key determinants of whether certain data are comparable or not is the way or ways of collecting them, which should be alike. The given case uses three main techniques, notably, document review, participant observation, and interviews (Closser et al., 2016). Examining the papers provides a perspective on the immunization of the locals at each site, in other words, the exact date-specific list of the procedures that the people underwent. Throughout the observation, including clinic-based, the investigators took notes on the participants’ behavior, which they later compared to the responses received within the survey.

Regarding the interviews, all of them followed the pre-designed protocol, which made it possible to compare, contrast, and analyze the answers. The health officials at all of the sites had to reply to the same questions, and the parents of the children who were taking part in the polio campaign as well. The result was “a body of data that was systematically comparable” (Closser et al., 2016, p. 326). This is a bright example of how systematic comparative ethnography is prevalent over traditional in terms of outcome accuracy.

To summarize, the tradition of comparative ethnography presupposes pulling together the data from several studies that had been conducted independently, hence may differ dramatically in methodology. By contrast, systematic comparative ethnography, on which the case under review relies, uses alike methods, techniques, and approaches at several sites in order to answer specific research questions. This allows for collecting the data that are more comparable and, consequently, improving the validity of the outcomes.


Closser, S., Rosenthal, A., Maes, K., Justice, J., Cox, K., Omidian, P. A., Mohammed, I. Z., Dukku, A. M., Koon, A. D., & Nyirazinyoye, L. (2016). The global context of vaccine refusal: Insights from a systematic comparative ethnography of the global polio eradication initiative. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 30(3), 321-341. Web.