Constructions of Young Women’s Health and Wellbeing in Neoliberal Times: A Case Study of the HPV Vaccination Program in Australia

  • Kellie Burns
  • Cristyn Davies


This chapter explores how the concept of wellbeing is operationalized in policy and practice, constituted as health’s more flexible and well-rounded counterpart. Drawing on Foucault’s (1991) analytics of governmentality, we argue that “health-as-wellbeing” is mobilized as a modality of neoliberal government. Taking the Australian Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program as a case study, we explore how discourses of healthy citizenship, HPV and HPV vaccination are produced and consumed through conjoining discourses of health and wellbeing. We analyze the initial televisual and online promotional materials that targeted girls and young women alongside data from a qualitative research study about the school-based HPV vaccination program. We argue that the shift from health to health-as-wellbeing produces and manages contemporary subjectivities through a range of pedagogies and consumptive practices that position individuals as free-choosing agents and managers-of-the-self. We illustrate how the discourse of health-as-wellbeing is employed to mediate knowledge about HPV and HPV related cancer, and to construct the norms of healthy and gendered citizenship.


Human Papillomavirus Neoliberalism Sexual health Vaccination Youth wellbeing 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education and Social WorkThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of MedicineThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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