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October 2021

Hist Philos Life Sci. 1997 ; 19(2): 181-209.

The public science of Louis Pasteur: the experiment on anthrax vaccine in the popular press of the time.

Bucchi M.

Department of Sociology, University of Trento, Italy.

The paper focuses on Pasteur's public experimentation of the anthrax vaccine (Pouilly-le-Fort, 1881) as portrayed in the English and French popular press of the time. It is argued that this 'popular' level of representation did not merely provide additional publicity for Pasteur's ideas. Rather, the nature and meaning of the experiment itself and of the related controversy on immunisation were substantially negotiated and shaped within the public arena. The multifold consequences of this framing at the public level are explored. In particular, attention is drawn to the relationships that in such process were established with other issues debated at the same time in the arena, namely homeopathy, vivisection and vaccination.


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