Genetic Determinism, Technology Optimism, and Race

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-04-10 00:44Z by Steven

Genetic Determinism, Technology Optimism, and Race

The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume 661, Issue 1, 2015
pages 160-180
DOI: 10.1177/0002716215587875

Jennifer Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government; Professor of African and African American Studies
Harvard University

Maya Sen, Assistant Professor of Public Policy
Harvard University

We begin with a typology of Americans’ understanding of the links between genetic inheritance and racial or ethnic groups. The typology has two dimensions: one running from genetic determinism to social construction, and the other from technology optimism to technology pessimism. Construing each dimension as a dichotomy enables four distinct political perspectives on the possibilities for reducing racial inequality in the United States through genomics. We then use a new public opinion survey to analyze Americans’ use of the typology. Survey respondents who perceive that some phenotypes are more prevalent in one group than another due to genetic factors are disproportionately technology optimists. Republicans and Democrats are equally likely to hold that set of views, as are self-identified blacks, whites, and Latinos. The article discusses the findings and speculates about alternative interpretations of the fact that partisanship and group identity do not differentiate Americans in their views of the links between genetic inheritance and racial inequality.

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The Biobank as Political Artifact: The Struggle over Race in Categorizing Genetic Difference

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2015-11-09 01:43Z by Steven

The Biobank as Political Artifact: The Struggle over Race in Categorizing Genetic Difference

The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume 661, Number 1, September 2015
pages 143-159
DOI: 10.1177/0002716215591141

Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, Senior Research Scholar, Pediatrics
Center for Biomedical Ethics
Stanford University

This article discusses the institutional practices of classifying and creating taxonomies of difference within biobanks (repositories that store a broad range of biological materials, including DNA) and the technical and sociopolitical priorities that ultimately create biobanks. I argue that biobanks operate as political artifacts and that the social circumstances surrounding the development and use of biobanks determine what counts as meaningful difference within human genetic research. The massive collection of human DNA, blood, and tissues is critical to genomic medicine and the development and governance of biobanks structure knowledge that will ultimately bear on how population differences are interpreted and health disparities are framed. Careful consideration of how to avoid the conflation of concepts of race, ethnicity, and nationality with biological differences is necessary to identify effective interventions that will bear positively on health.

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Regulating Mixed Marriages through Acquisition and Loss of Citizenship

Posted in Articles, Europe, Law, Media Archive on 2015-10-21 02:06Z by Steven

Regulating Mixed Marriages through Acquisition and Loss of Citizenship

The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume 662, Number 1, November 2015
pages 170-187
DOI: 10.1177/0002716215595390

Betty de Hart, Professor of Law
Radboud University, The Netherlands

Mixed marriages have always had an ambiguous and often problematic relationship with the law. On one hand, mixed marriages have been seen as a key indicator of sociocultural integration into mainstream society. In terms of the law, this perception has been expressed, for example, as privileged access to citizenship status for immigrant family members of citizens. On the other hand, mixed marriages have been seen as a threat to society and social cohesion. In this article, I argue that these contradictory perceptions of mixed relationships have informed the development of citizenship law over time. Building on literature on the regulation of mixed marriages in law, as well as gender and citizenship law, I use the Netherlands as a case study to demonstrate how citizenship law has been used as a tool to prevent certain types of “undesirable” mixed couples and how this approach has informed Dutch citizenship law until today.

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What Constitutes Intermarriage for Multiracial People in Britain?

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2015-10-15 17:44Z by Steven

What Constitutes Intermarriage for Multiracial People in Britain?

The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume 662, Number 1, November 2015
pages 94-111
DOI: 10.1177/0002716215595387

Miri Song, Professor of Sociology
University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom

Intermarriage is of great interest to analysts because a group’s tendency to partner across ethnic boundaries is usually seen as a key indicator of the social distance between groups in a multiethnic society. Theories of intermarriage as a key indicator of integration are, however, typically premised upon the union of white and nonwhite individuals, and we know very little about what happens in the unions of multiracial people, who are the children of intermarried couples. What constitutes intermarriage for multiracial people? Do multiracial individuals think that ethnic or racial ancestries are a defining aspect of their relationships with their partners? In this article, I argue that there are no conventions for how we characterize endogamous or exogamous relationships for multiracial people. I then draw on examples of how multiracial people and their partners in Britain regard their relationships with their partners and the significance of their and their partners’ ethnic and racial backgrounds. I argue that partners’ specific ancestries do not necessarily predict the ways in which multiracial individuals regard their partners’ ethnic and racial backgrounds as constituting difference or commonality within their relationships.

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The Criminal Justice System and the Racialization of Perceptions

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-10-12 00:01Z by Steven

The Criminal Justice System and the Racialization of Perceptions

The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume 651, Number 1 (January 2014)
pages 104-121
DOI: 10.1177/0002716213503097

Aliya Saperstein, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Stanford University

Andrew M. Penner, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of California, Irvine

Jessica M. Kizer
Department of Sociology
University of California, Irvine

Recent research on how contact with the criminal justice system shapes racial perceptions in the United States has shown that incarceration increases the likelihood that people are racially classified by others as black, and decreases the likelihood that they are classified as white. We extend this work, using longitudinal data with information on whether respondents have been arrested, convicted, or incarcerated, and details about their most recent arrest. This allows us to ask whether any contact with the criminal justice system triggers racialization, or only certain types of contact. Additional racial categories allow us to explore the racialization of crime beyond the black-white divide. Results indicate even one arrest significantly increases the odds of subsequently being classified as black, and decreases the odds of being classified as white or Asian. This implies a broader impact of increased policing and mass incarceration on racialization and stereotyping, with consequences for social interactions, political attitudes, and research on inequality.

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Biological Determinism and Racial Essentialism

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-08-24 02:14Z by Steven

Biological Determinism and Racial Essentialism

The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume 661, Number 1, September 2015
pages 8-22
DOI: 10.1177/0002716215591476

W. Carson Byrd, Assistant Professor of Pan-African Studies
University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

Matthew W. Hughey, Professor of Sociology
University of Connecticut

In August 2012, nine months after being artificially inseminated using a sperm donation from the Midwest Sperm Bank of Downers Grove, Illinois, a white Ohio woman named Jennifer Cramblett gave birth to a racially “mixed” and healthy baby girl named Payton. Despite the triumph, the woman soon filed a “wrongful birth” suit in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging that the sperm bank gave her sperm vials from an African American donor instead of a white donor, which in turn caused “personal injuries . . . pain, suffering, emotional distress and other economic and non-economic losses” (Circuit Court 2014, 8). The lawsuit states “that they now live each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future” (Circuit Court 2014, 6).

The supposed racial mismatch between parent and child in Cramblett v. Midwest Sperm Bank reveals the presence of two powerful belief systems that haunt both the popular imagination and stalk the scientific landscape: the notions of “biological determinism” (that race is genetically inherited) and “racial essentialism” (that group-based biology maps to basic social behaviors). Together, biological determinism and racial essentialism form the “ideological double helix” that intertwines to shape beliefs about race and inequality and influence the theoretical approaches, analytic strategies, and interpretations taken by scholars conducting biomedical and social scientific research. The suit turns on the assumption that varied racial groups have bounded and characteristically unique arrangements of genetic material: as the complaint contends, “Their desire was to find a donor with genetic traits similar to both of them” (Circuit Court 2014, 2–3). Such devotion to racial essentialism motivates a belief that the two white parents in this case are more similar to each other (because of their shared “whiteness”) than they are to their child (because of an unknown “black” father), even though the…

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How Do Children of Mixed Partnerships Fare in the United Kingdom? Understanding the Implications for Children of Parental Ethnic Homogamy and Heterogamy

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science, Social Work, United Kingdom on 2012-07-14 04:32Z by Steven

How Do Children of Mixed Partnerships Fare in the United Kingdom? Understanding the Implications for Children of Parental Ethnic Homogamy and Heterogamy

The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume 643, Number 1, September 2012
pages 239-266
DOI: 10.1177/0002716212444853

Lucinda Platt, Professor of Sociology
Institute of Education, University of London

Many claims are made about the significance of interethnic partnerships for individuals and for society. Such partnerships continue to be seen as a “barometer” of the openness of society and have spawned extensive analysis investigating their patterns, trends, and determinants. But we know little about the experience of children growing up in families of mixed parentage. In the United Kingdom, the increase in the self-defined “mixed” population is often celebrated. But there has been little quantitative sociological analysis that has investigated the circumstances of the children of mixed ethnicity partnerships. Using two large-scale UK datasets that cover a similar period, this article evaluates the extent to which mixed parentage families are associated with circumstances (both economic and in terms of family structure) that tend to be positive or negative for children’s future life chances and how these compare to those of children with parents from the same ethnic group. It shows that there is substantial variation according to the outcome considered but also according to ethnic group. Overall, children in mixed parentage families do not unequivocally experience the equality of outcomes with majority group children that the assimilation hypothesis implies.

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Living Proof: Is Hawaii the Answer?

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2009-12-12 19:10Z by Steven

Living Proof: Is Hawaii the Answer?

The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume 530, Number 1 (November 1993)
pages 137-154
DOI: 10.1177/0002716293530001010

Glen Grant

Dennis M. Ogawa, Professor and Department Chair of American Studies
University of Hawaii

Hawaii has often been heralded for its relatively harmonious race relations, which encompass a great diversity of Asian and Pacific cultures. As the national concern with respect to multi-culturalism escalates into a debate over the merits of ethnicity versus amalgamation into the American melting pot, an understanding of Hawaii’s social and racial systems may demand greater scrutiny. The living proof that the islands’ people offer is not racial bliss or perfect equality but an example of how the perpetuation of ethnic identities can actually enhance race relations within the limits of a social setting marked by (1) the historical development of diverse ethnic groups without the presence of a racial or cultural majority; (2) the adherence to the values of tolerance represented in the Polynesian concept of aloha kanaka, an open love for human beings; and (3) the integration of Pacific, Asian, European, and Anglo-American groups into a new local culture.

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