Grappling with antimicrobial resistance
Our research
Events and connections
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Podcasts and blogs

Reframing Resistance

In November 2019 Catherine contributed a podcast to the AMR Studio series at the University of Uppsala on 'Reframing Resistance'.

Eleanor Kashouris recently blogged on health inequalities in the BSA blog, Discover Society, in a piece 'On the Frontline: redeveloping Southall and a story of soil, gas, empire and resistance' Discover Society.



The Problem and The Productivity of Ignorance

This paper came out of preparatory work for the grant and explores The problem and the productivity of ignorance: Public health campaigns on antibiotic stewardship. It was published in The Sociological Review early in 2020 and offers a critical account of efforts to engage people with the issue of antimicrobial resistance. It analyses how public health workers encourage what they understand as responsible antibiotic use or antibiotic stewardship, and how their efforts are shaped by different theories of ‘behaviour’ or social action. Discourse analysis of all major UK campaigns and their evaluations over the last two decades reveals how different versions of the citizen jostle for attention in a public health that draws on sociology, psychology, and increasingly behavioural economics. Rejecting an explanation which focuses solely on the appeal of emotion in new forms of governance, I deploy theories of expert and lay ignorance to show how public health is pushed towards new approaches as it struggles with an apparently recalcitrant public in the case of AMR. Here ignorance is both problematic and productive, prompting a shift to campaigns based on unreflective action, that are accompanied by decisions to work with potential misunderstandings about antibiotics and their effects. The paper proposes the term ‘shrug’ as a provocative counterpart to the ‘nudge’ of behavioural economics, drawing attention to the ways in which behavioural interventions may be linked to strategic retreats from engagement, when policy makers feel unable to affect or predict the understanding and views of non-experts. It thus contributes to sociological and political critique of narrow forms of behavioural thinking and their effects on relations between governments and their citizens.

Please get in touch if you need help getting access to the full paper, or want to discuss the themes with us from an academic or a practitioner perspective.

Other peer reviewed publications

In May 2020 Catherine published a research note in the journal Sociology of Health and Illness on medical sociology and the academic response to the corona pandemic. You can read it here.

Will C and Kamenshchikova A. From universal frames to collective experimentation? Pursuing serious conversations about antimicrobial resistance [version 1; peer review: 1 approved].Wellcome Open Research 2020,5:192 ( This is a response to the Wellcome Trust report 'Reframing Resistance. How to communicate about antimicrobial resistance effectively'.

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