Toward an Understanding of "Genetic Sociology" and Its Relationships to Medical Sociology and Medical Genetics in the Educational Enterprise

By Fredericks, Marcel; Odiet, Jeff A. et al. | Education, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Toward an Understanding of "Genetic Sociology" and Its Relationships to Medical Sociology and Medical Genetics in the Educational Enterprise


Fredericks, Marcel, Odiet, Jeff A., Miller, Steven I., Fredericks, Janet, Education


The purpose of this paper is to establish the fact that a new subdiscipline in the field of medical sociology is urgently needed to analyze the interrelationships and implications of genetic discoveries, diagnoses, treatments and prognoses upon societal behavior. This subdiscipline is "Genetic Sociology". Genetic Sociology aims to illuminate areas such as stem cell research; genetic discoveries and their ramifications; human embryos and society; DNA test in the courts; social, moral and religious concerns; and the analysis of religion and the human genome. We have previously delineated the area of Cellular Sociology that shows the parallels between the cell as a biological system at the micro level and the subsystem of society as a sociological cell, also, at the micro level (Fredericks, M., Odiet, Miller, and Fredericks, J., 2003). Thus, given the fact that human knowledge is never compartmentalized and given the fundamental thesis that there are concrete interrelationships between the natural and social sciences we wish to reiterate that the social can intervene in the cellular and vice versa. Coupled with the critical and fierce debate of embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, genetic engineering, (Gottweis, 1999; Mack, 2001; Thomson, 2001; Drayna, 2001; Shannon, 2001; Holden, 2001; McGuffin, 2001) we have developed the relationships between what we call Genetic Sociology and Cellular Sociology as out growths of Medical Sociology (Fredericks, M., Odiet, Miller, Fredericks, J., 2003).

The method is to use inductive reasoning to explore the implications and interrelationships of genetic discoveries upon social behavior. First, what is the evidence that there are such relationships? Assuming that knowledge is never completely compartmentalized, we are attempting to show that there are reciprocal interrelationships and impact between social behaviors on the one hand and genetic diagnoses and discoveries on the other. The structure of a society as a whole can only be observed in its functioning, whereas an organic structure can be seen apart from its functional activity. Further, the structure of a society differs from a biological structure in that it cannot be seen or touched. But while it is a mental construct, an ideal type, it is no less "real" than a biological structure. The reality lies in the fact that the behavior and actions of individual human beings, over time, fall into a series of organized patterns of behavior. When these organized patterns of behavior have been located in a spatio-temporal historical context, they become institutions--ways of taking care of basic human needs in the systems and subsystems of society (Searle, 1995). We shall now attempt to develop these relationships in more detail.

Society, Culture, and Personality (SCP) from a macroscopic perspective represents the global village, a nation, a community, an institution or group (Figure 1). There are a multitude of subsystems, related to subsystems in the human body, operating in any of these aggregates. For purposes of analysis, we will isolate a simple subsystem, namely, the personality subsystem. We shall demonstrate that the personality subsystem is the result of nature ([N.sub.1]), which is the genetic basis, and nurture ([N.sub.2]), which is the sociocultural basis in any society between the Gemeinschaft ([G.sub.1]) and the Gesellschaft (G2) dichotomy (Figure 1).

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

The genetic (or natural) basis for personality is the combination of traits that reveals from the person's unique combination of genes. The genetic basis ([N.sub.1]) of personality (Figure 1) represents only potentiality. These potentialities, when developed under the influence of the individual's total environment, predominantly during childhood and adolescence, are shaped into a personality. Behavioral geneticists use large sample surveys, twin studies, and / or gene mapping to determine the genetic basis of personality. …

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