Centre for Internet & Society

Details of a session proposed for the Internet Researchers' Conference 2022 - #Home.

Internet Researchers' Conference 2022 - # Home - Call for Sessions


Session Type: Panel Discussion 

Session Plan

This panel discusses vaccine hesitancy in the Global North and the Global South as is evident through social media. It is common to talk about the differences between the Global North and the Global South regarding vaccine hesitancy (Makau, 2021). Past studies have looked at economic, social, technological and power gaps regarding the impact of COVID-19 (Makau, 2021). However, our preliminary research suggests there are several similar factors affecting public perceptions of the COVID-19 attitude to vaccines across contexts such as religious beliefs, education, age, lack of trust on public health systems, influence of opinion and religious leaders among others (ECDC, 2022; Kanozia & Arya, 2021; Arce, J.S.S. et. al., 2021).

With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic the notion of “home” has become a key space for individuals to feel safe and protected from the COVID-19 virus. Playing a vital role in the creation of this space is the use of social media and the ways in which it influences vaccine discourse in online spaces. The availability and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines provides people with the opportunity to return to the public space and embrace their communities outside of the physical space of home. Our concept of “home” encompasses the whole world. Though we will be discussing the similarities of the Global North and the Global South, we will be talking here of the “home” as a community space that makes us feel “home”, inclusive of the divisions that exist between the Global North and the Global South. 

World Health Organization has emphasized the significant role of vaccines for ending the pandemic (Dror et al., 2020). Despite the availability of various vaccines globally, vaccine hesitancy has led to visible protests and resistance against vaccine mandates internationally (Kelly, 2022; Ngo, M., Bednar & Ray 2022). There is a gap in understanding how vaccines are a universal need. Questions we raise are the following: If online communication opens dialogue about vaccine hesitancy or further polarizes it, how does it open access to information regarding COVID-19 vaccine availability? Do digital spaces provide a place for discourse and discussion about these topics?

The reasons behind vaccine hesitancy may vary from place to place. Even though geographical borders seem to blur due to the interconnections in the world by the arrival of internet technology and communication, the world order is still often viewed as being dichotomous Global North and Global South to point to the global socio-economic gaps (Roberts et. al., 2015). 

This panel plans to study relevant twitter hashtags to understand how social media has been used to drive people towards/against vaccine hesitancy. The data is scraped using computational tools such as Gephi and Netlytic to identify trends such as #antivaksin, #vaccineSideEffects and #pfizer. We will do close readings of the textual data scraped along with an examination of visible networks and clusters within to see what discursive connections emerge across contexts. We therefore identify common and/or contrasting themes across the specific regional contexts from the global south and global north.



Dror et al. (2020). Vaccine hesitancy: the next challenge in the fight against COVID‑19.European Journal of Epidemiology, pp. 775-779.

Carpentier, N. (2017). Discourse. In Keywords for Media Studies. Laurie Ouellette and Jonathan Gray. Ed., New York: NYU Press, pp. 59-62.

Kanozia, R., & Arya, R. (2021). Fake news, religion, and covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Media Asia, 48(4), https://doi.org/10.1080/01296612.2021.1921963, pp. 313–321.

Kelly, L. (2022, February 12). NZ, Australia vaccination mandates protests gain in numbers. Reuters. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/new-zealand-australia-vaccination-mandates-protests-gain-numbers-2022-02-12/

Roberts, J. Timmons, Amy Bellone Hite, and Nitsan Chorev, Eds. 2015. The Globalization and Development Reader Perspectives on Development and Global Change. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Makau, W. M. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on the growing North-South divide. E-international Relations, 15.

ECDC. (2022, January 31). Overview of the implementation of COVID-19 vaccination strategies and deployment plans in the EU/EEA. Retrieved from European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/overview-implementation-covid-19-vaccination-strategies-and-deployment-plans

Ngo, M., Bednar, A., & Ray, E. (2022). Trucker Convoy Protesting Covid Mandates Slow Traffic Around Washington. The New York Times. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/06/us/trucker-convoy-dc-beltway.html.

Arce, J.S.S. et. al. (2021). COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and hesitancy in low-andmiddle-income countries, Nature Medicine, VOL 27 1386, 1385–1394, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01454-y.

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