Sunday, April 24, 2005

Race and Genomics

On the resourceful Sociologists for Women in Society listserv, Barrie Thorne pointed to the Race and Genomics discussion being addressed on the Social Science Research Council site. They are responses to an article written March 15, 2005 by Dr. Armand Leroi about "race" being a genetic/scientific reality. Two responses are from Troy Duster, ASA President, and Ann Morning, also a sociologist.

This is a must read for social scientists researching/teaching with "race" in mind. It would be a fantastic teaching tool as well.


At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reification is a two way street. Legitimate inquiries can quickly be converted to political incorrectness, racism and the amoral by people who have an agenda to promote or an ideology to sustain. Sociologists are not exempt from this as some are quick to peddle soft science as hard science to meet their needs. And speaking of peddling, maybe the ASA can design some new logos for T-shirts. The product they have is not pulling in the Public by the droves. How about, "Science, Love It or Leave It"? Better yet, "Equal DNA = Equal Rights", that ought to bring in the Frosh in large numbers come registration time, heh? Bill Potham

At 4:17 PM, Blogger Erin said...

I'm not sure what you mean by "reification is a two way street," I'd need something a bit more specific to fully understand the point.

This is just what this debate is about. Science calling its findings "objective" as if the questions scientists ask are outside of society's influence. "Hard" science needs "soft" science to save it from itself - perhaps you forget the entire scientific movement called eugenics. This was a scientific movement entirely based on proving there were "races," inspired by Darwin's cousin Francis Galton. It was developed by American scientists, and got picked up by the Nazi's...the rest is history, or is it? I think social scientists are warranted for taking seriously the debate on "Race" and Genomics. What are the questions prompting the research? Why is proving "race" an important question? How is "race" being conceptualized this go around?

Additionally, the public sociologies discourse is not about pulling in the public. It's about getting sociologists to write in more accessible ways and in other places besides academic journals so that sociological ways of thinking are more available to the public.

I don't know of any sociologists willing to call their research "hard" science. I'm not sure sociologists are as concerned with the "hard" science "soft" science issue as you might like to think - ever heard of post-positivism? Scientific discourse is itself a form of power/knowlegde that many social scientists can look at critically while still finding some use for - another use of social sciences, getting past binary thinking, like "hard" and "soft" science, as if it explains everything.

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