Eugenics and the New Genetics in Britain: Examining Contemporary Professionals' Accounts

  title={Eugenics and the New Genetics in Britain: Examining Contemporary Professionals' Accounts},
  author={Anne Kerr and Sarah Cunningham-Burley and Amanda Amos},
  journal={Science, Technology \& Human Values},
  pages={175 - 198}
This article explores the accounts of eugenics made by a small but important group of British scientists and clinicians working on the new genetics as applied to human health. These scientists and clinicians used special rhetorical strategies for distancing the new genetics from eugenics and to sustain their professional autonomy. They drew a number of boundaries or distinctions between eugenics and their own field, describing eugenics as politically distorted "bad science, " as being… 

The Old Eugenics and the New Genetics Compared

The paper concludes that despite significant procedural, legislative and administrative differences between the old eugenics and the new genetics, and despite significant spatial, temporal and cultural variations in interpretation and implementation, at the ideological level there is essentially no difference.

Between social hypocrisy and social responsibility: professional views of eugenics, disability and repro-genetics in Germany and Israel

It is suggested that the comparison of German and Israeli professionals reveals a profound complexity and involvedness in coming to terms with the “eugenic” lessons of the Holocaust, on both sides.

On Ambivalence and Risk: Reflexive Modernity and the New Human Genetics

This critical examination of theories of reflexive modernity with respect to the new human genetics draws on a range of empirical studies and conceptual critiques. In it we explore the ways in which

Lay understandings of the relationship between race and genetics: Development of a collectivized knowledge through shared discourse

Throughout the past century, research into human genetics revealed the relationships between biochemistry and various human characteristics in increasing detail. At each step of this path of

Rights and Responsibilities in the New Genetics Era

This article critically explores the distribution of rights and responsibilities associated with recent developments in genetic testing and DNA donation. The author identifies two key discourses in

Governmentality, biopower, and the debate over genetic enhancement.

This essay seeks to demonstrate that Foucault's concept of biopower and his genealogical method are valuable as the authors consider moral questions raised by genetic enhancement technologies, and examines contemporary debate over the development, marketing, and application of such technologies.

Marginalising ‘eugenic anxiety’ through a rhetoric of ‘liberal choice’: a critique of the House of Commons Select Committee Report on reproductive technologies

In light of a recent House of Commons Select Committee investigation into the regulation of human reproductive technologies, this article critically evaluates the Committee's case for a devolved,

The Portrayal of Research into Genetic-Based Differences of Sex and Sexual Orientation: A Study of “Popular” Science Journals, 1980 to 1997

Genetic explanations of human differences became increasingly popular in the 1980s and 1990s. Unfortunately, there has been relatively little analysis of how the media portray the findings of genetic

Schizophrenia and the Narrative of Enlightened Geneticization

The way in which scientists attempt to construct schizophrenia as a genetic disease using various discursive strategies produces a `narrative' about schizophrenia which subtly prioritizes genetic explanations, while appearing to allow a rôle for non-genetic factors.

"Commercial revolution" of science: the complex reality and experience of genetic and genomic scientists

  • I. Ganache
  • Medicine
    Genomics, society, and policy
  • 2006
Through a qualitative analysis of scientists' practice-related discourse, it is identified three main sources of complexity in their involvement in the "commercial revolution" of science.



Eugenics in Britain

Eugenics was backed by arguments based on commonsense and medical knowledge of heredity, Darwinian biology and, increasingly, specialized scientific research.

The New Genetics: Professionals' Discursive Boundaries

In this paper we examine new genetics professionals' accounts of the social context of their work. We analyse accounts given in interview by an ‘elite’ group of scientists and clinicians. Drawing on

Genetics, Eugenics and Evolution

  • J. Harwood
  • History
    The British Journal for the History of Science
  • 1989
The historians of biology and medicine whose work appears here share a respect for Bernard Norton's work, and many of us were fortunate to have known him personally as well, and with this volume the authors pay tribute to him.

American geneticists and the eugenics movement: 1905–1935

It is shown that between 1905 and 1935, both internal and external factors were important in producing and influencing geneticists' attitudes toward the eugenics movement.

The new genetics and health: mobilizing lay expertise

It is concluded that identifying lay people as expert in, rather than ignorant of, the way genetics may shape their lives is a fundamental first step in moving toward greater lay participation in policy discussions and, ultimately, decision making about the new genetics and health.

The allure of genetic explanations.

The recent explosion of interest in genetic explanations of human behaviour is probably the result of several additional factors, including the effort by several openly gay researchers to demonstrate the biological basis of homosexuality.

Geneticists and the Eugenics Movement in Scandinavia

  • N. Roll-Hansen
  • Political Science
    The British Journal for the History of Science
  • 1989
The effect of genetic research was to make eugenics more moderate, mainly because the fears and hopes were shown to be exaggerated and the expectation of rapid and large effects of eugenic policies on the gene pool likewise proved to be quite unrealistic.

The Biology of Stupidity: Genetics, Eugenics and Mental Deficiency in the Inter-War Years

  • D. Barker
  • Economics
    The British Journal for the History of Science
  • 1989
‘On the Politics and Sociology of Stupidity in The authors' Society’ argues that their discriminatory attitudes to the retarded have deep ideological roots; their social institutions tend ‘automatically’ to penalize stupidity; and repugnance often characterizes their face-to-face interactions with the stupid.

Controlling Human Heredity: 1865 to the Present

In the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century, it was widely assumed that society ought to foster the breeding of those who possessed favourable traits and discourage the breeding of those

Screening and the new genetics; a public health perspective on the ethical debate.

The authors argue that the benefits arising from the information generated in the course of genetic carrier screening cannot be presumed merely by asserting a "right to know' ethical imperative, and draw attention to the danger that a combination of technical capability, professional zeal and consumer demand will override currently accepted screening principles.