1st Edition

Genetic Imaginations Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Human Genome Research

By Peter Glasner, Harry Rothman Copyright 1998

    The title of this book derives from C. Wright Mills’ classic The Sociological Imagination (Penguin, 1970), in which he sees the essential project of social science as the use of the imagination to 'grasp history and biography and the relations between the two in society'. This enables the social scientist to 'range from the most impersonal and remote transformations to the most intimate features of the human self'. Another of Mills’ concerns was the relationship between 'the personal troubles of the milieu' and 'the public issues of social structure' and these are most acutely illustrated in human genetics, the most personal of the new technologies. The chapters in this volume address these issues through discussions of choice and informed decision-making, risks and hazards, the economic and political organization of new technology, and the public as well as the scientist’s understanding of science. The methods used range from detailed ethnographies, through deconstruction's of text and action, to surveys and interviews.

    Contents: Social dimensions of the Human Genome Mapping Project: an introduction; Transitional science and the Human Genome Mapping Project Resource Centre; How weak bonds stick? Genetic diagnosis between laboratory and clinic; Information technology as an instrument of genetics; Exploring organizational issues in British genomic research; Eugenics here and now; Moral and legal consequences for the fetus/unborn child of medical technologies derived from human genome research; The American gene therapy industry and the social shaping of a new technology; Social criticism and the human genome programme: some reflections on the limits of a limited social science; Signs of life - taking genetic literacy seriously.


    Peter Glasner, Harry Rothman

    ’As the promise and the risks of genetics begin to redefine our health, our reproduction and our lifestyles, this book provides a detailed and informed social mapping of the Human Genome Project on which the new genetics is being constructed. In its breadth of coverage, its critical yet constructive analysis, and its relevance to contemporary policy debate, this book is essential reading for both academic and non-academic audiences.’ Professor Andrew Webster, Director, Science & Technology Studies Unit, University of York, UK ’...important conceptual and policy-related contributions to the social science analysis of genetics. Both the depth and range of material that is covered are impressive and the referencing and indexing especially useful as a resource for those coming new to the field. the material is very well written and accessible...provides policy makers with critical yet constructive analyses of current regimes of genetic regulation and governance’ New Genetics and Society. ’Genetic Imagainations will be important reading for students, academics, policy makers and, ideally, a wider public.’ Technology Analysis and Strategic Management, 2000