COVID-19 Vaccine Refusal in Serbia as an Example of Social Solipsism


  • Bojan Žikić Department of Ethnology and Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia



cognitive anthropology, social solipsism, COVID-19, vaccination, Serbia


The number of citizens in Serbia vaccinated against COVID-19 was among the highest in Europe in early 2021. It started to stagnate as it approached 50% total population coverage, while the number of cases started to rise. The paper presents the cultural thought that leads people to decline COVID-19 vaccination, and aims to show that such cultural thought can be described as social solipsism. This means that illusions about reality are used as a cognitive reference point for organizing the world around us.

It has been noted that there is no uniform category of opponents of the fight against the pandemic. There are those who, in their negative attitude to everything that is being undertaken to curb the pandemic, are led by the idea that the illness does not exist; then there are those who are opposed to vaccination in general, but also those who oppose only COVID-19 vaccination; in addition, there are those who prioritize their own principles based on legal, moral or religious norms over vaccination, interpreting those norms in this way, and those who believe that their lifestyle and state of health protect them from illness, and that this, rather than vaccination, should be the guideline for the fight against the pandemic; then there are those who are doubtful about everything they read and hear in the media about COVID-19, as well as those who are unable to provide a more specific explanation about the reasons for refusing to be vaccinated, and those who have lost all trust in politicians, i.e. in the way that our society has been organized under the influence of state and social actors; then, there are those whose trust in the medical profession has declined.

Finally, there is a distinct subgroup of respondents, namely those who are able to put together a small pseudotheoretical system which links the pandemic as a global fact with events which may or may not be connected with it in the local, Serbian sociocultural context, in a manner which they perceive as being causal. What characterizes the cultural thought that leads them to refuse vaccination is distrust of the dominant social discourses, primarily political and scientific and, above all, medical discourses, and they consequently ignore the objective facts these discourses are based on. Such cultural thought can be termed postlogical because it ignores those social discourses – primarily scientific ones – which talk about the objective state of factual reality; instead, it draws on arguments that are not characteristic of causal, factographically informed thought, influencing public opinion by appealing to convictions and feelings rather than facts.



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How to Cite

Žikić, Bojan. 2022. “COVID-19 Vaccine Refusal in Serbia As an Example of Social Solipsism”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 17 (1):233–257.

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