Experts as ‘storytellers’ in reproductive genetics:exploring key issues

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Abstract

The paper reports findings from a European study on experts’ perceptions of reproductive genetics, and explores the notion of experts as ‘genetic story tellers’ and producers of genetic ideology. The first part provides experts’ accounts of families who are perceived as being in need of prenatal genetic screening. Here, I reflect on the types of claims experts construct as well as on the impact of these claims. The second part is a theoretical elaboration of how, in making their claims, experts employ a series of normative strategies (i.e. claiming ownership of knowledge and practices, separating the social and scientific, deploying genetic foundationalism and advocating the application of bioethics) in their genetics work. The conclusion is that, while these issues are enormously difficult and socially complex, we must be vigilant because the moral and ethical values of our society may be at stake.

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