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Exploring Genetics and Social Structure

Peter Shawn Bearman

Title:
Exploring Genetics and Social Structure
Author(s):
Bearman, Peter Shawn
Date:
Type:
Articles
Department(s):
Sociology
Volume:
114
Persistent URL:
Book/Journal Title:
American Journal of Sociology
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Abstract:
Just about every week the Science Times—one of the places where science meets the public—enthusiastically reported on new research findings that revealed the genetic basis for something (intelligence, voting behavior, obesity, depression, sexual behavior, religiosity, orgasms, altruism and egoism, generosity, thrift, and, of course, earwax type). Aside from the earwax, the phenomena reported to be “genetic” were largely of sociological interest. Yet sociologists were rarely discussed in these articles. Meanwhile, the prevailing sentiment of the discipline appeared to be that the emphasis on genetic expression as explanation for human behavior and social outcomes was at best undermining sociological perspectives and at worst a return of the eugenicist project of the first half of the 20th century. The two reactions—enthusiastic embrace and uncritical adoption (as represented in the Science Times) and fear and loathing (from sociologists)— appeared to be in some tension. However, thinking about it a little more, one realizes that they arise from the same source: a naive overvaluation of “genetics.”
Subject(s):
Social structure
Sociology
Publisher DOI:
https://doi.org/10.1086/596596
Item views
197
Metadata:
text | xml
Suggested Citation:
Peter Shawn Bearman, , Exploring Genetics and Social Structure, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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