B4626 - Social Mechanisms of Genetic Effects - 31/05/2024

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Asta Breinholt | Roskilde University (Denmark)
Dr. Marii Paskov, Gaia Ghirardi
Title of project: 
Social Mechanisms of Genetic Effects
Proposal summary: 

Today, it is widely accepted that most traits are both genetically heritable and affected by the environment. In the social sciences, the previous nature-nurture debate has been replaced by a new paradigm analyzing the interplay between genetics and the social environment (e.g., in sociology: Breinholt and Conley 2023; in economics: Houmark, Ronda, and Rosholm 2024; in psychology: Wertz et al. 2020). Rooted in sociology, this project analyzes how social mechanisms of genetic effects play out in three realms affecting childhood educational performance: family, daycare, and school peers, and asks how knowledge on these social mechanisms of genetic effects changes theories of justice on social stratification. The project thereby advances knowledge on the complex interplay between the social environment and genetics and addresses ethical questions re-actualized by the integration of molecular genetics in the social sciences. Addressing these issues will promote well-being of children.

Impact of research: 
The project will show how social mechanisms of genetic effects play out in three realms affecting childhood educational performance – the family, the daycare, and the school peers – thereby expanding our understanding of the complex interplay between environment and genotype. Taking the starting points that genetics are part of the circumstances beyond the control of the individual (Roemer 2001), and that it is unethical to intervene on genotypes, the empirical results will feed into theoretical work on models of theory of justice. Popularizing this knowledge will the impact the way we think about the relationship between genetics and the environment moving away from reductionist nature vs. nurture accounts, which in the long run will help promote the well-being of children.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 27 May, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 28 May, 2024
Social Science, Mental health, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity