Why Sociology Matters to Race and Biosocial Science

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Recent developments in genetics and neuroscience have led to increasing interest in biosocial approaches to social life. While today's biosocial paradigms seek to examine more fully the inextricable relationships between the biological and the social, they have also renewed concerns about the scientific study of race. Our review describes the innovative ways sociologists have designed biosocial models to capture embodied impacts of racism, but also analyzes the potential for these models normatively to reinforce existing racial inequities. First, we examine how concepts and measurements of difference in the postgenomic era have affected scientific knowledges and social practices of racial identity. Next, we assess sociological investigations of racial inequality in the biosocial era, including the implications of the biological disciplines’ move to embrace the social. We conclude with a discussion of the growing interest in social algorithms and their potential to embed past racial injustices in their predictions of the future.


Race, sociology, biology, genetics, neuroscience, impacts of racism, racial inequality, racial disparities, social algorithms, embedded racial injustice, prejudice, discrimination

Publication Title

Annual Review of Sociology

Publication Citation

46 Annual Review of Sociology 195-214 (2020).

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