Eugenics and the new genetics in Britain: examining contemporary professionals' accounts

Kerr, A. , Cunningham-Burley, S. and Amos, A. (1998) Eugenics and the new genetics in Britain: examining contemporary professionals' accounts. Science, Technology and Human Values, 23(2), pp. 175-198. (doi: 10.1177/016224399802300202) (PMID:11656684)

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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 technically unfeasible, a feature of totalitarian regimes, the abuse of neutral knowledge, and as the manipulation of the population's gene pool as opposed to diagnosing and treating individuals with genetic conditions. Their more sophisticated defense strategies invoked the importance of individual choice and the relationship between nature and nurture. The article highlights the ambiguities and difficulties in professionals' use of this rhetoric, drawing on historical and sociological analyses of eugenics, genetics, and medical science and technology more broadly.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kerr, Professor Anne
Authors: Kerr, A., Cunningham-Burley, S., and Amos, A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Science, Technology and Human Values
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1552-8251

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