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What binds biosociality? The collective effervescence of the parent-led conference


  • Dimond, Rebecca
  • Bartlett, Andrew
  • Lewis, Jamie


Questions of community are central to many research settings in the social sciences. Rabinow argued that, in the wake of the Human Genome Project, an increasingly important form of collectivity would be biosociality. Biosociality recognises a central role for biomedical knowledge in constructing genetic identities and producing and reproducing social relationships. Accordingly, it is often imagined as a new form of social solidarity. We draw on observations of parent-led conferences to explore the way in which biosociality is expressed at events organised around a particular genetic syndrome – 22q11 deletion syndrome. The parent-led conferences took place within the United Kingdom between 2007 and 2010 and were observed as part of a multi-sited ethnographic study. By bringing together a geographically dispersed group of people together within the same physical location, conferences offer an ideal platform to empirically examine sociality. Durkheim used the term collective effervescence to describe the collective expression of heightened emotion. We suggest that in the case of the 22q11 deletion syndrome activities discussed in this paper, collective effervescence is a mechanism through which individuals become a collective. We argue that parent-led conferences gather individuals in one location on the basis of common biological factors, but it is the shared emotional experience of being together that consolidates and renews the connection between members.

Suggested Citation

  • Dimond, Rebecca & Bartlett, Andrew & Lewis, Jamie, 2015. "What binds biosociality? The collective effervescence of the parent-led conference," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 1-8.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:126:y:2015:i:c:p:1-8
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.12.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Landzelius, Kyra, 2006. "Introduction: Patient organization movements and new metamorphoses in patienthood," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 529-537, February.
    2. Rabeharisoa, Vololona, 2006. "From representation to mediation: The shaping of collective mobilization on muscular dystrophy in France," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 564-576, February.
    3. Navon, Daniel & Shwed, Uri, 2012. "The chromosome 22q11.2 deletion: From the unification of biomedical fields to a new kind of genetic condition," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(9), pages 1633-1641.
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