Norm change in genetic services: How the discourse of choice replaced the discourse of prevention

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Abstract

In the 1960s and '70s, it was generally assumed that reproductive choices have social consequences and thus are a matter of social concern. Socially-responsible reproductive behavior, in turn, was assumed to entail minimizing the risk of transmitting grave genetic diseases. Over time, such a view came increasingly to be labelled "eugenics," a term that would in much of the world acquire strongly negative connotations. By the 1990s, the old view had been largely replaced in the West by the tenet that procreation is a private matter, and that there are no right or wrong reproductive decisions. The primary aim of this essay is to explain and interpret this transformation, which was largely a product of the 1980s. Drawing on social-norms theory, which assumes that norms are always to some degree contested, it asks how those with an interest in changing prevailing attitudes were able to achieve such apparent rapid success.

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Paul, D. B. (2017, January 1). Norm change in genetic services: How the discourse of choice replaced the discourse of prevention. Varia Historia. Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. https://doi.org/10.1590/0104-87752017000100003

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