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Postgenomics, uncertain futures, and the familiarization of susceptibility genes


  • Chilibeck, Gillian
  • Lock, Margaret
  • Sehdev, Megha


This paper draws on empirical findings from interview studies in the USA and Canada to interrogate the idea that expanding practices of genetic testing are likely to transform kin and family relations in fundamental ways. We argue that in connection with common adult onset disorders in which susceptibility genes with low predictive power are implicated it is unlikely that family relationships will be radically altered as a result of learning about either individual or family genotypes. Rather, pre-existing family dynamics and ideas about family susceptibilities for disease may be reinforced. The case of the ApoE gene and its relationship to Alzheimer's disease is used as an illustrative example. We found that "postgenomic" thinking, in which complexity of disease causation is emphasized, is readily apparent in informant narratives.

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  • Chilibeck, Gillian & Lock, Margaret & Sehdev, Megha, 2011. "Postgenomics, uncertain futures, and the familiarization of susceptibility genes," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(11), pages 1768-1775, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:72:y:2011:i:11:p:1768-1775

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Finkler, Kaja, 2005. "Family, kinship, memory and temporality in the age of the new genetics," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(5), pages 1059-1071, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Buchbinder, Mara & Timmermans, Stefan, 2011. "Newborn screening and maternal diagnosis: Rethinking family benefit," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(7), pages 1014-1018.


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