Genes and families in the media: Implications of genetic discourse for constructions of the 'family'

Crabb, Shona; Augoustinos, Martha
October 2008
Health Sociology Review;Oct2008, Vol. 17 Issue 3, p303
Academic Journal
Many critics have previously examined the ways in which the pervasive construction of the family in Western nations - that of the heterosexual nuclear family - is normalised and naturalised in a range of contexts. This paper examines discourses of genetics and the 'family' in a series of UK newspaper articles, many of which are non-normative family forms, including families who have used assisted reproductive technologies, and lesbian and gay parented families. We analyse the ways in which genetic discourse is employed in these articles in relation to complex social and psychological issues regarding identity, psychological adjustment, and appropriate parenting and family structures. In particular, genetically-unrelated families (or those who use technologies to produce genetically-related offspring) are constructed as problematic and, thus, we argue that dominant genetic discourses function to reproduce, and construct as 'natural', socially-conservative notions of the family, further marginalising non-heteronormative families.


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