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The family sociology of the new genetics : a consideration of "medicalization of family and kinship" and "telling the truth"

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  • Communication
  • Linguistics
  • Medicine


The purpose of this paper is to review its brief history and to present some new perspectives for further studies in the family context. During the past two decades, the ELSI (Ethical, Legal and Social Implication) Program of the Human Genome Project has stimulated the sociology of new genetics. This relatively new field of sociology has discussed various topics as at-risk health status, genetic counseling, lay perspective and so on. Yet, the family context has been a neglected area though it is a major issue in late onset conditions like Huntington's disease or in cancer genetics. Kaja Finkler, one of a few advocators who discuss the family context, describes social influences by the new genetics as "medicalization of family and kinship". Based on her point of views, the author presents future research agendas in Japan and indicates "telling the truth" -explanations from physicians to the family and communication among the family- would be the first issue to discuss, showing some discourses from Japanese families with Huntington's disease.

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