ISG professors Dr. Hannah Landecker and Dr. Aaron Panofsky have published a paper titled “From Social Structure to Gene Regulation, and Back: A Critical Introduction to Environmental Epigenetics for Sociology” in the Annual Review of Sociology.
Abstract: Epigenetics is a burgeoning area of biomedical research into the mechanisms by which genes are regulated—how the activity of producing proteins is controlled. Although molecular epigenetic research is highly biochemical, it is of interest to sociologists because some epigenetic changes are environmentally mediated and can persist across the life span or into further generations. Environmental epigenetic research tracks mechanisms by which social forces—from pollution to nutrition to mothering to traumatic experience—become molecularly embodied, affect gene expression, and induce durable changes in behavior and health. We begin with an introduction to the science of environmental epigenetics focused on articulating the logic of experimentation and explanation in this field. Turning to sociologists’ key interests, we review the growing literature on epigenetics of socioeconomic status. Finally, we consider how epigenetics offers opportunities and challenges for sociological research on both empirical and theoretical grounds.
Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Sociology Volume 39 is July 11, 2013.