The New Genetics and the Public's Health

The New Genetics and the Public's Health

The New Genetics and the Public's Health

The New Genetics and the Public's Health

Synopsis

This volume addresses the emerging social and political consequences of the new genetics and provides a critique of current research and practice in public health.

Excerpt

This book explores the applications of new genetic knowledge for the health of 'the public', and the way these are changing how we think about our bodies, ourselves, and society. It examines how genetics is shaping our conceptions of the natural and the normal, and what are seen as the possibilities for treatment, prevention, and cure. The impact of new genetic knowledge, we contend, extends from the local level to the global level. It not only affects how we, individually, view our bodies, our selves, and our families, but also shapes our social relations across national borders. New genetic knowledge is emerging in the context of, and is contributing to, a redefinition of the relationship between citizens and the state, accompanying the increasing liberalization of markets and transnational flows of information and economic exchanges. The findings of genetic research are being rapidly applied in practices of population screening, diagnostic testing, and counselling, and promise to revolutionize the treatment of disease through the development of new therapies and drugs, profoundly affecting personal and social life. Indeed, developments in this area bring into question the very notions of the person and society. In the book we identify the diverse imperatives associated with these new genetic technologies, and indicate how they are affecting the lives of everyone. We begin, in this chapter, by outlining the book's perspective and guiding assumptions, and introducing the chapters that follow.

Our perspective can be described, broadly, as a sociocultural perspective, in that we examine the social and cultural contexts within which the field of 'public health genetics' is emerging, and takes meaning. This sets it apart from the perspectives of medical genetics, preventive medicine, and much of bioethics, which dominate the literature on genetics and human health. In recent years . . .

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