The Genome Factor

“The social genomics revolution is now upon us,” according to Dalton Conley and Jason Fletcher in their new book The Genome Factor: What the Social Genomics Revolution Reveals about Ourselves, Our History, and the Future (Princeton University Press, 2017). In just over a hundred years, the gene has gone from relative obscurity, with research relegated to a small scientific community, to near ubiquity, with news features and genotyping services available to a large number of people. Working at the scientific frontier where genomics and the social sciences meet, Conley and Fletcher highlight the latest research and discoveries that are helping uncover the role genes play in human social dynamics and inequalities.

Countering social scientists’ tendency to avoid genetics when examining human behavior, Conley and Fletcher confront the notion that innate, inherited differences are the primary driver of social inequality. Instead, Conley and Fletcher argue that by integrating genetic markers into social science research, residual inequalities, including environmental inputs, which effect outcomes in an individual’s life, will be more apparent.

Synthesizing research from sociology, political science, economics, and genetics, Conley and Dalton offer new ways of thinking about the genetic and environmental effects that impact who gets ahead and who does not. While also considering what these new findings mean for both individuals and society, The Genome Factor lays the groundwork for future research and policy.