Currently Happening Presently Now: EUGENICS

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Raz, A. E. (2009). Eugenic utopias/dystopias, reprogenetics, and community genetics. Sociology of health & illness, 31(4), 602-616.

The impetus for this review is the intriguing realisation that eugenics, viewed as dystopian and authoritarian in most of the 20th century, is in the process of being reinterpreted today – in the context of reproductive genetics – as utopian and liberal. This review offers an analytical framework for mapping the growing literature on this subject in order to provide a summary for both teaching and research in medical sociology. Recent works are subsumed and explored in three areas: historical criticism of the ‘old eugenics’; the continuation of this stream in the form of criticism of reprogenetics as a new, ‘backdoor’ eugenic regime of bio-governmentality – an area which also includes the application of Foucauldian and feminist perspectives; and the recent enthusiasm regarding ‘liberal eugenics,’ claiming that reprogenetic decisions should be left to individual consumers thus enhancing their options in the health market. The review concludes by discussing and illustrating potential research directions in this field, with a focus on the social and ethical aspects of ‘community genetics’ and its emerging networks of individuals genetically at risk.


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