Reconstructing Sociogenomics Research: Dismantling Biological Race and Genetic Essentialism Narratives

Pamela Herd, Melinda C Mills, Jennifer Beam Dowd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


We detail the implications of sociogenomics for social determinants research. We focus on education and race because of how early twentieth-century scientific eugenic thinking facilitated a range of racist and eugenic policies, most of which helped justify and pattern racial and educational morbidity and mortality disparities that remain today, and are central to sociological research. Consequently, we detail the implications of sociogenomics research by unpacking key controversies and opportunities in sociogenomics as they pertain to the understanding of racial and educational inequalities. We clarify why race is not a valid biological or genetic construct, the ways that environments powerfully shape genetic influence, and risks linked to this field of research. We argue that sociologists can usefully engage in genetics research, a domain dominated by psychologists and behaviorists who, given their focus on individuals, have mostly not examined the role of history and social structure in shaping genetic influence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-435
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of health and social behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept-2021
Externally publishedYes


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