Vaccine Court: The Law and Politics of Injury. By Anna Kirkland. New York: New York University Press, 2016.

AuthorCarol A. Heimer
Publication Date01 March 2018
Date01 March 2018
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/lasr.12317
the in-house counsel, CEOs, HR professionals and judges who con-
structed, managed and institutionalized a symbolic civil rights law at
the expense of mitigating deeply entrenched racist and sexist work-
places should be required to read Working Law.
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Epp, Chuck (2009)Making Rights Real: Activists,Bureaucrats, and the Creationof the L egislative
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Dobbin, Frank (2009) Inventing Equal Opportunity.Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press.
Sharkey, Patrick (2013) Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward
Racial Equality.Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.
Skrentny, John D. (1996) The Ironies of Affirmative Action: Politics, Culture, and Justice in
America. Chicago: Univ.of Chicago Press.
Stainback, Kevin & Tomaskovic-Devy, Donald (2012) Documenting Desegregation: Racial
and Gender Segregation in Private Sector-Employment since the Civil Rights Act.
New York:Russell Sage Foundation Press.
***
Vaccine Court: The Law and Politics of Injury. By Anna Kirkland.
New York: New York University Press, 2016.
Reviewed by Carol A. Heimer, American Bar Foundation and
Department of Sociology, Northwestern University
Although most Americans probably believe that the federal and
state courts handle all civil legal cases, in fact the U.S. Congress has
placed a few matters, such as vaccine injuries, in the hands
of special courts. Kirkland’s illuminating and insightful book intro-
duces us to the vaccine court, created in 1986, a relatively obscure
hybrid institution where “parents, activists, researchers, doctors,
lawyers, and health bureaucrats come together to wrangle over
what vaccine injuries really are” (2) and which cases should receive
compensation. And although the special masters of the vaccine
court encounter a great deal of uncertainty as they try to decide
which injuries merit compensation, those judging this book have a
comparatively easy task: its considerable merits are easily discerned.
Through the hybrid institution of the vaccine court, law and sci-
ence work together to co-produce the “immunization social order,”
essentially the laws, institutions, biotechnologies, and social practi-
ces that jointly produce high levels of vaccine coverage. A stunning
success by any measure, the immunization social order has vastly
Book Reviews 273

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