Science and Politics in the Polio Vaccination Debate on Facebook: A Mixed-Methods Approach to Public Engagement in a Science-Based Dialogue

    Authors: Daniela Orr1,*, Ayelet Baram-Tsabari1
    Affiliations: 1: The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2018 vol. 19 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1500
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    This study examines the ways in which the public discusses and debates the scientific issue of vaccinations in the online social media environment of Facebook. We apply a mixed-methods approach, where a qualitative analysis is combined with a quantitative analysis of the characteristics of the debate on polio vaccinations in a Facebook group dedicated to parental and professional dialogue. The qualitative analysis suggested that dialogue became more political than scientific overall, yet the quantitative analysis showed that the discussants did not abandon the scientific nature of the issue at hand.

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This study examines the ways in which the public discusses and debates the scientific issue of vaccinations in the online social media environment of Facebook. We apply a mixed-methods approach, where a qualitative analysis is combined with a quantitative analysis of the characteristics of the debate on polio vaccinations in a Facebook group dedicated to parental and professional dialogue. The qualitative analysis suggested that dialogue became more political than scientific overall, yet the quantitative analysis showed that the discussants did not abandon the scientific nature of the issue at hand.

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