What to make of it? The (Re)emergence of a biological conceptualization of race in health disparities research

Soc Sci Med. 2007 May;64(10):1977-83. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.01.010. Epub 2007 Mar 21.


The debate over the role of race/ethnicity in determining disease susceptibility has re-emerged since it was declared that race was arbitrary biological fiction more than 50 years ago. Partly due to advancements in the Human Genome Project and related technologies, the idea that race/ethnicity does have a genetic basis is enjoying a resurgence. A rise in the use of race in genetic studies has left many researchers who are committed to a social conceptualization of race at a loss regarding how to evaluate these developments. The commentary attempts to correct the problem by providing a critical review of the state of research on race, genetics and health. This review aims to bring social health disparities researchers up-to-date on developments in the genetic literature and to facilitate a more critical engagement of research that purports to find a genetic basis to racial disparities in health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Racial Groups / genetics*
  • Research*
  • United States