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After geneticization

Arribas-Ayllon, Michael ORCID: 2016. After geneticization. Social Science and Medicine 159 , pp. 132-139. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.05.011

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The concept of geneticization belongs to a style of thinking within the social sciences that refers to wide-ranging processes and consequences of genetic knowledge. Lippman’s original use of the term was political, anticipating the onerous consequences of genetic reductionism and determinism, while more recent engagements emphasise the productivity and heterogeneity of genetic concepts, practices and technologies. This paper reconstructs the geneticization concept, tracing it back to early political critiques of medicine. The argument is made that geneticization belongs to a style of constructionist thinking that obscures and exaggerates the essentializing effects of genetic knowledge. Following Hacking’s advice, we need a more literal sense of construction in terms of ‘assembly’ to give a clearer account of the relationship between processes and products. Using the ‘assemblage’ concept to explore the social ontology of genetics, the paper reviews three areas of the empirical literature on geneticization – disease classification, clinical practice and biosociality – to show that a new style of thinking has appeared within the social sciences. In the final assessment, the conditions that gave rise to geneticization are now obsolete. While it may serve as a useful ritual of debate, conceptually geneticization offers a limited account of the heterogeneity of socio-technical change.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0277-9536
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 May 2016
Date of Acceptance: 5 May 2016
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 10:12

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