Forgive Me Child for I Have Sinned: Anti-Vaxxer Folk Devil Mothers and Narratives of Redemption

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Pucci, Antonella




"Folk devils" is a term coined by Stanley Cohen (1972) to characterize social groups who come to be seen as threats to society. The concept has been theorized in many ways—from showcasing voiceless outsiders, to outspoken individuals defending themselves. The thesis troubles Cohen's original concept by showing an emerging folk devil narrative of redemption, examined through the case studies of two anti-vaxxer mothers who publically confess wrongdoing of their previous anti-vaccination stance in the media. Drawing from McAdams's (2006) theory of narrative identity, I pose critical questions of how redemption narratives not only challenge previous notions of folk devils, but also explore how they impact discourses of moral regulation. This study finds that folk devil redemption narratives illustrate identity reconstruction through the liminal state of exiting, imply self-policing mechanisms of conformity, and specifically with regard to the topic of the case studies, offer effective anecdotal strategies for vaccine promotion.


Mass Communications
Sociology - Theory and Methods
Education - Health




Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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