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Brave New World of Biosocial Science

Author(s): Massey, Douglas S.

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Abstract: The last attempt to marry biological and social science occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and at that time, the union did not go well. Neither biology nor social science was very well developed, leaving scientists in both disciplines ill positioned to make use of the two perspectives. The field of genetics, in particular, was in its infancy. The managed breeding of simple organisms such as sweet peas and fruit flies confirmed that something called “genes” existed, that genetic traits could be inherited, and that gene expression depended on combinations of dominant and recessive genes; but no one knew what genes were made of or how genetic information was transmitted in the course of reproduction. Social science, for its part, had only recently been invented, and powerful statistical techniques, complex data sets, and sophisticated analytic models lay years in the future. As a result, there was much theorizing and little hard data analysis, yielding slow progress adjudicating between competing concepts and theories. This reality left ample room for fallible human scientists to project their own prejudices into the theoretical schemes they constructed, leading to a proliferation of competing schools of thought—structuralist, functionalist, Marxist, Freudian, and Darwinian—all with very different political implications.
Publication Date: Feb-2015
Electronic Publication Date: 19-Feb-2015
Citation: Massey, Douglas S. (2015). Brave New World of Biosocial Science. Criminology, 53 (1), 127 - 131. doi:10.1111/1745-9125.12058
DOI: doi:10.1111/1745-9125.12058
ISSN: 0011-1384
Pages: 127 - 131
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Criminology
Version: Author's manuscript

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