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Heredity, Family, and InequalityA Critique of Social Sciences$
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Michael Beenstock

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016926

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016926.001.0001

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Where Do We Go from Here?

Where Do We Go from Here?

(p.275) 7 Where Do We Go from Here?
Heredity, Family, and Inequality

Michael Beenstock

The MIT Press

This chapter explores the possible contribution of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to social science. Medical scientists have been looking for the human genome for genes that account for diseases believed to have a genetic basis. Socioeconomic survey data containing genetic markers obtained from respondents’ DNA are expected to become available in the near future. GWAS has the potential to identify genes associated with schooling, earnings, criminality, marital stability, and a variety of socioeconomic phenomena. However, this chapter argues that GWAS have generally not resulted in major breakthroughs in medicine. The problem is that such studies are based on induction, in contrast to successful science which is based on deduction, and may even be less successful in the social sciences than they are in medicine. The chapter also discusses methodological issues associated with behavioral genetics in the context of the role of heredity in determining human outcomes.

Keywords:   genome-wide association studies, social sciences, genes, diseases, medicine, induction, heredity, behavioral genetics, outcomes

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