Under the influence of genetics

How transdisciplinarity leads us to rethink social pathways to illness

Bernice A. Pescosolido, Brea L. Perry, J. Scott Long, Jack K. Martin, John Nurnberger, Victor Hesseibrock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article describes both sociological and genetic theories of illness causation and derives propositions expected under each and under a transdisciplinary theoretical frame. The authors draw propositions from three theories - fundamental causes, social stress processes, and social safety net theories - and tailor hypotheses to the case of alcohol dependence. Analyses of a later wave of the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism reveal a complex interplay of the GABRA2 gene with social structural factors to produce cases meeting DSM/ICD diagnoses. Only modest evidence suggests that genetic influence works through social conditions and experiences. Further, women are largely unaffected in their risk for alcohol dependence by allele status at this candidate gene; family support attenuates genetic influence; and childhood deprivation exacerbates genetic predispositions. These findings highlight the essential intradisciplinary tension in the role of proximal and distal influences in social processes and point to the promise of focusing directly on dynamic, networked sequences that produce different pathways to health and. illness.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Volume114
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008

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illness
alcohol
transdisciplinary
social process
deprivation
alcoholism
social factors
candidacy
childhood
cause
health
evidence
experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Under the influence of genetics : How transdisciplinarity leads us to rethink social pathways to illness. / Pescosolido, Bernice A.; Perry, Brea L.; Long, J. Scott; Martin, Jack K.; Nurnberger, John; Hesseibrock, Victor.

In: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 114, No. SUPPL. 1, 2008.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Pescosolido, Bernice A. ; Perry, Brea L. ; Long, J. Scott ; Martin, Jack K. ; Nurnberger, John ; Hesseibrock, Victor. / Under the influence of genetics : How transdisciplinarity leads us to rethink social pathways to illness. In: American Journal of Sociology. 2008 ; Vol. 114, No. SUPPL. 1.
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