Shiao, Bode, Beyer, and Selvig argue that the theory of race as a social construct should be revisited in light of recent genetic research, which they interpret as demonstrating that human biological variation is patterned in "clinal classes" that are homologous to races. In this reply, I examine both their claims and the genetics literature they cite, concluding that not only does constructivist theory already accommodate the contemporary study of human biology, but few geneticists portray their work as bearing on race. Equally important, methods for statistically identifying DNA-based clusters within the human species are shaped by several design features that offer opportunities for the incorporation of cultural assumptions about difference. As a result, Shiao et al.'s theoretical distinction between social race and biological "clinal class" is empirically jeopardized by the fact that even our best attempts at objectively recording "natural" human groupings are socially conditioned.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science