Is Race Still Socially Constructed? The Recent Controversy over Race and Medical Genetics

  title={Is Race Still Socially Constructed? The Recent Controversy over Race and Medical Genetics},
  author={John Hartigan},
  journal={Science as Culture},
  pages={163 - 193}
  • J. Hartigan
  • Published 1 June 2008
  • Sociology
  • Science as Culture
Abstract Current controversies in the field of genetics are provoking a reassessment of claims that race is socially constructed. Drawing upon Bruno Latour's model of how to analyse scientific controversy, this article argues that race is ‘gaining in reality’ in such a way that renders claims about its social construction tenuous and uncertain. Such claims can be seen as failing in two key regards. The first relates to changes in the way genetics is practised and promoted, which are undermining… 
The indeterminacy of race: The dilemma of difference in medicine and health care
How can researchers use race, as they do now, to conduct health-care studies when its very definition is in question? The belief that race is a social construct without “biological authenticity”
Translating Racial Genomics: Passages in and Beyond the Lab
While qualitative studies of science have traditionally focused on sciences as bounded cultures, or cohesive communities that operate in well-defined research settings, Actor-Network Theory (ANT)
‘Race’ as a social construction in genetics
Racial and ethnic categories have appeared in recent scientific work in novel ways and in relation to a variety of disciplines: medicine, forensics, population genetics and also developments in
This article confronts the cultural limitation of critical race work in the United States by examining genomic practices at two national institutes in Mexico—one focused on people and aimed at
Race and reference
The biological race debate is at an impasse. Issues surrounding hereditarianism aside, there is little empirical disagreement left between race naturalists and anti-realists about biological race.
The proof is in the genes? Jewish responses to DNA research
The paper explores Jewish responses to genetic research aimed at reconstructing the history of different Jewish populations. The focus is on two case studies – the book by Rabbi Yaakov Kleiman
Race in an epigenetic time: thinking biology in the plural.
This article claims that if sociologists want to investigate race in a postgenomic world they should pay more attention to this novel plastic and biosocial view of race, and there are no reasons to believe that an epigenetic view will extinguish race, or that soft-inheritance claims will produce a less exclusionary discourse than genetics.
Making Sense of Identity Politics and the New Genetics1
c politics of identity are often marked by a high level of emotional and political commitment on the part of the actors involved, and they remain a site of continuous contestation. not only are they
Taking action to advance the study of race and ethnicity: the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI)
The essence of the WHI Race and Ethnicity Language and Data Interpretation Guide is presented and recommendations for WHI investigators who want to include “race” and/or “ethnicity” in papers and presentations are presented.
Genetic Indigenisation in ‘The People of the British Isles’
In 2007, Channel 4 screened Face of Britain, a documentary about the genetic mapping of Britain. Face of Britain promised to reveal ‘who we really are’ by tracing genetic links back to ancient Celts,


Reifying Human Difference: The Debate on Genetics, Race, and Health
  • Lundy Braun
  • Medicine
    International journal of health services : planning, administration, evaluation
  • 2006
The authority of genetic accounts for racial and ethnic difference in disease is rooted in a broad cultural faith in the promise of genetics to solve problems of human disease and the inner truth of human beings that is intertwined with historical meanings attached to race.
Why genes don't count (for racial differences in health).
  • A. Goodman
  • Biology
    American journal of public health
  • 2000
There is a paradoxical relationship between "race" and genetics. Whereas genetic data were first used to prove the validity of race, since the early 1970s they have been used to illustrate the
The Practitioner's Dilemma: Can We Use a Patient's Race To Predict Genetics, Ancestry, and the Expected Outcomes of Treatment?
  • D. Barr
  • Medicine
    Annals of Internal Medicine
  • 2005
The decoding of the human genome has opened the door to an exciting realm that may fundamentally alter the trajectory of many diseases, however, recent advances in the understanding of genomics and the genetics of ancestry have left practitioners with an unanswered question.
Odd Tribes: Toward a Cultural Analysis of White People
Odd Tribes challenges theories of whiteness and critical race studies by examining the tangles of privilege, debasement, power, and stigma that constitute white identity. Considering the relation of
Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview
Now in a substantially revised third edition, "Race in North America" offers a compelling analysis of the evolution of 'race' and the cultural context from which it emerged. Few topics in the Western
Stormy weather: race, gene expression, and the science of health disparities.
  • N. Krieger
  • Sociology
    American journal of public health
  • 2005
This work draws on historical and contemporary examples to place conservative polemics in context, and highlights fundamental flaws in their arguments involving the use of spurious categories, logical fallacies, temporal fallacies and an erroneous emphasis on gene frequency over gene expression.
Introduction: Expanding the Discourse on "Race"
In response to Mukhopadhyay and Moses's call for biological and cultural anthropologists to reestablish a dialogue on race, anthropologists from the four major subfields join colleagues from two
The Molecularization of Race: Institutionalizing Human Difference in Pharmacogenetics Practice
In the contemporary United States an increasingly palpable scientific trend to individualize medicine has ushered in new debates on the biological basis of race. Medical researchers, consumers, and
Hasty generalisation and exaggerated certainties: reporting genetic findings in health disparities research
Concerns are raised that despite common optimism about genetic research, it may not be the most productive way to examine health disparities and has the potential to contribute to racial stereotypes, arguably a prime cause of the health disparities the genetic research actually seeks to ameliorate.
In the eye of the storm: race and genomics in research and practice.
The authors suggest that geneticists and social and behavioral scientists and clinicians attend to external validity issues by operationalizing population and racial categories and avoiding race proxies for other biological, social, and cultural constructs in research designs, data analyses, and clinical practice.