E volution , B iology , and S ociety

Authored by: Rosemary L. Hopcroft

T he H andbook of S ociology and H uman R ights

Print publication date:  February  2013
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9781594518829
eBook ISBN: 9781315634227
Adobe ISBN: 9781317258391


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The Evolution, Biology and Society Section of the American Sociological Association was established in 2004 to facilitate the integration of biology into what was at the time, and still is, a highly biophobic discipline. Much of this biophobia stems from early work attempting to incorporate biology into sociology in such a way as to reinforce the prejudices of the researcher and justify existing social inequalities between classes, races, and sexes (see Gould 1981 for a review of this work). Yet current biosocial sociologists distance themselves from the faulty methods and reasoning of this early work. Rather than exacerbating existing social inequalities and reinforcing prejudices, I argue in this chapter that integration of biology into sociology can help to further the most humane goals of sociologists, in particular a concern for human rights. The biological unity of humankind and the universality of human nature underline the notion “that all men are created equal,” an assumption that is the basis of most declarations of human rights. The biosocial view argues strongly against biologically based divisions between groups, but it does not deny that socially created divisions between groups exist. I argue that dissemination of information about the biological unity of the human group, coupled with understandings of the biological underpinnings of many social phenomena, can contribute to the breaking down of social divisions.

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