Standard Article

Gene as a Cultural Icon

  1. Dorothy Nelkin

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005860



How to Cite

Nelkin, D. 2006. Gene as a Cultural Icon. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. New York University, Department of Sociology and School of Law, New York, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


The gene has assumed a cultural meaning that is independent of its biological definition – becoming a source of personal identity, a determinant of behavior and personality, and a basis of social stereotypes. This cultural construct of genetic essentialism has serious social policy implications.


  • determinism;
  • genetic essentialism;
  • personhood;
  • media;
  • social policy