Genetics and social inquiry

Jeremy Freese*, Sara Shostak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Social science and genetic science still have fairly little engagement with one another, but the continued swift development of genetic science has certainly gained social scientists attention. First, some social scientists are incorporating techniques from quantitative and molecular genetics into their work. Genetic data are increasingly recognized as providing valuable leverage even for research animated by strict interest in social environmental causes. Second, social scientists have been interested in understanding aspects of genetic science as a social phenomenon. This literature identifies possible noxious effects of uncritical public acceptance of genetic science, although how consistent these speculations are with public opinion and other available data is less clear. Because public understanding of genetics can influence behavior and social policies in ways that affect the ultimate causal potency of genes themselves, adequately theorizing genes as causes requires integration of these two lines of inquiry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-128
Number of pages22
JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
StatePublished - 2009


  • Behavioral genetics
  • Biosociality
  • Collective identity
  • Gene-environment interaction
  • Geneticization
  • Life course perspective

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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