What About the Gene and What About the Brain?

  • Sal Restivo


This chapter is in part preparation for Chapter 4’s focus on the social construction of the brain, and in part a critique of gene-centric thinking. Brain-centrism and gene-centrism are linked at the levels of cultural ideology, individualistic thinking, and public policy. The US decade of the brain and the human genome project both began in 1990. Media headlines play an important role in determining how the general public thinks about genes and brains. To a certain extent, even taking into account the likelihood of distortions that occur in translating scientific statements into headlines, the headlines reflect genetics and neuroscience as cultural productions. The headlines gain credibility because they reinforce the individualism that is part of America’s enduring myth of “the cult of individualism.”

General Bibliography

  1. Barlow, Aaron, The Cult of Individualism: A History of an Enduring American Myth (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013).Google Scholar
  2. Callero, Peter, The Myth of Individualism: How Social Forces Shape Our Lives, 2nd edition (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Litlefield, 2013).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sal Restivo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Technology, Culture and SocietyNYU Tandon School of EngineeringBrooklynUSA

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