Comment, Comics and the Contrary.
I studied genetics as both an undergraduate and postgraduate. Now I investigate the sociology of genetics. I keep close eye on stories about genetics in newspapers, and keep a watch on the infiltration of ‘the gene’ into discussions that have absolutely nothing to do with genetics. And I don’t think I’ve ever read a more garbled pinning of personal character on ‘genes’ than this:
“Ellis is a product of his environment, having inherited the workaholic Leicester gene”
Now, I know that the author of this piece more than likely knows that there is no such thing as a ‘Leicester gene’. It does, nevertheless, concern me. The popular presentation and perception of genes is that they are a more or less deterministic and inalterable factor in human development. Speaking with ease about culture as genetic is at least a little way towards legitimising a reactionary response towards cultural and social problems, particularly when they can be identified with a distinct group, rather than an ameliorating and integrationist approach.