This chapter focuses on the example of the inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine (IPV) programme in the 1950s and early 1960s to show how the public expressed demand for vaccination services. On the one hand, the government struggled to raise the registration rate for the vaccine to target levels. On the other hand, parents and the media became increasingly frustrated over a series of supply crises. Some of these were caused by an inability or unwillingness to import American vaccine to cover shortfalls in production by British pharmaceutical companies. Others were caused by surges in demand, such as the rush by young adults to get the vaccine following the death of professional footballer Jeff Hall. Thus, demand was a major problem for the British government. Demanding parents could force policy responses (such as a commitment to import more vaccine). Surges in demand could stress the system to breaking point. But a lack of demand also threatened the Ministry of Health’s wider public health goals. The supply issues were only fully resolved after the introduction of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) in 1962.
In this chapter the decline of the routine smallpox vaccination programme is used to examine the theme of nation. While smallpox had been eliminated from Britain in the 1930s, occasional importations by air and sea showed the vulnerability of the nation to external public health threats. Moreover, since the disease often came from postcolonial Commonwealth nations – notably India and Pakistan – racialised views of threats to public health became more common during periods of anxiety about immigration and Britain’s place within the international community. The government attempted to combat declining vaccination rates through publicity campaigns, but struggled to convince the public to comply with its guidance. The public was not anti-vaccination, as shown by the demand for vaccination as a form of epidemic control when outbreaks occurred. However, by showing little enthusiasm for vaccination, coupled with the declining statistical and emotional threat of the disease during the 1960s, the British public helped to create the conditions for the removal of routine childhood smallpox vaccination in 1971 – years before the disease’s official eradication and before other European nations followed suit.
Vaccinating Britain investigates the relationship between the British public and vaccination policy since 1945. It is the first book to examine British vaccination policy across the post-war period and covers a range of vaccines, providing valuable context and insight for those interested in historical or present-day public health policy debates. Drawing on government documents, newspapers, internet archives and medical texts it shows how the modern vaccination system became established and how the public played a key role in its formation. British parents came to accept vaccination as a safe, effective and cost-efficient preventative measure. But occasional crises showed that faith in the system was tied to contemporary concerns about the medical profession, the power of the state and attitudes to individual vaccines. Thus, at times the British public demanded more comprehensive vaccination coverage from the welfare state; at others they eschewed specific vaccines that they thought were dangerous or unnecessary. Moreover, they did not always act uniformly, with “the public” capable of expressing contradictory demands that were often at odds with official policy. This case study of Britain’s vaccination system provides insight into the relationship between the British public and the welfare state, as well as contributing to the historiography of public health and medicine.
To set the scene for the rest of the book, this chapter discusses the evolving discourses of the rural and the urban, the exploitation of this discourse by some political parties, and the rise of the heritage industry. It then proceeds to survey the literature, in both anthropology and geography, on north European immigration into rural Western Europe: who these people are, when they arrived, what effects have they had on the social, economic, and political life of the places they chose to settle in. Since this material is relatively scanty, I have also relied on material within popular travelogues. I then discuss, in a similar manner, the nature and consequence of labour migration from North Africa and Eastern Europe to these areas. I conclude by considering the roles anthropologists can play today in today’s countrysides, in the development of rural life and the formulation of rural policy.
In the last three decades the anthropology of Western Europe has become almost exclusively an anthropology of urban life. The anthropology of rural life in Western Europe has been progressively neglected. Yet, just because cities concentrate people who continue to produce new and unexpected forms of social organization does not mean rurality becomes the emptying home of a tired traditionalism. Far from it. Since the city is only defined by opposition to the countryside, and since rural movements have urban effects, we cannot ignore the changes taking place in hamlets, villages, and rural towns throughout Western Europe. They are a integral part and parcel of life in Europe today. The key aim of this book is to redress this academic imbalance, by examining some of the central changes in the rural zones of contemporary Western Europe. In particular, most contributors look at the newcomers to these areas and the rainbow variety of effects they are having. The ‘alternative’ in our title is to be understood broadly. The contributors are not just looking at the self-proclaimed alternatives (hippies, New Agers, back-to-nature types, etc.) but at labour migrants from outside Western Europe and affluent resettlers as well. Members of all these groups are, in their own way, contributing towards the construction of a non-traditional countryside. All of them help to maintain life in rural areas which would otherwise be emptying of residents.
Collinson did fieldwork in Donegal, northwest Ireland, on relations between indigenes and incomers. He found that incomers, acting in groups in liaison with some locals, tended to be more prepared to seek EU rural-stimulation grants and so acted as motors of rural change. These groups had a different vision of the environment to that held by community development groups, staffed wholly by denizens, and by local councils. He is thus able to argue that the historical neglect of environmental concerns in the overall development agenda in Ireland is socially grounded at local levels, with all the consequences that entails.
‘Locals’ and ‘Moroccans’ in the Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux vineyards
Based on fieldwork among North African workers in the Bordeaux wine growing area of rural France, Crenn documents the relationship between locals and long established transnational groups. The size, generational differences and perception by locals, of these North African workers has changed over time, with new expectations. Despite integration in industry and social life over several decades, this group remain marginal. Crenn demonstrates that established long-term labour migrants are best viewed as transnationals, who creatively and selectively interpret their everyday practice to justify both their visions of themselves as North Africans and as active participants in French life. By creating their own food network, for instance, they can see themselves as comparable to, while different from, their French neighbours.
Senses of country living in a Basque-speaking village
Kepa Fernández De Larrinoa
Fernández de Larrinoa, a Basque anthropologist who now lives in the village he has studied since the 1970s, provides an exquisitely fine-grained ethnographic account of its socioeconomic evolution over the last 40 years. He demonstrates how multifaceted and unpredictable these developments can be. This is framed by a subtle analysis of the ways in which locals and incomers categorize and interact with one another.
MacClancy, who worked in the West of Ireland, found that the majority of incomers there were patently alternative types fleeing the urban cultures of their upbringing. But there are important distinctions within that general group: the hippies who came over in the early 1970s; the much more politicized crusties who arrived a decade later; the latest wave, which started in 1990s, of less radicalized urbanite escapees who strive to combine the value of living rurally with the benefits of information technology.
Incomers need not come from afar. In fact they might be local returnees. In his chapter, Josetxu Martínez, an anthropologist of his home region, studied the evolving patterns of residency and sociability in the Basque province of Alava. Between the 1960s and ‘80s, villagers left for the sake of jobs in the provincial city. But from the 1980s, in part stimulated by the local implementation of the rural interventionist programmes of the EU, these same villagers started to make seasonal returns to their natal villages. Financially secure thanks to their urban employment, they now saw the countryside not as the site of ill-paid drudgery but as a recreational space in which to relax and socialize among their kin and affines. Though ageing locals saw them as outsiders because they were no longer tied to the soil, these urban escapees continued to regard themselves as insiders. They did not see themselves as returning to a home they had earlier abandoned because, Martínez argues, they were not aware of having ever left it. They had moved to the city physically, not emotionally. Thus, he contends, we should speak of a new rural-urban continuum in the area, which is replacing the previously well-established separation between the two.