Sociology of Health and Illness book prize for CyberGenetics (2017)

Our colleagues in the MUSTS group Anna Harris and Sally Wyatt, together with their co-author Susan Kelly (University of Exeter), have won the 2017 Sociology of Health and Illness book prize for their book ‘CyberGenetics: Health genetics and new media’ (Routledge 2016). The award is given each year by the Medical Sociology group of the British Sociological Association for the book that makes ‘the most significant contribution to the sub-discipline of medical sociology/sociology of health and illness’.

CyberGenetics critically examines the market of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing from a social science perspective, asking: “What happens when genetics goes online?” Drawing upon empirical examples of DTC genetic testing websites (using online methods) and in-depth interviews in the United Kingdom with people using healthcare services, the authors describe the new social arrangements which emerge when a traditionally clinical practice (genetic testing) is taken into new spaces (the internet). CyberGenetics is the first scholarly monograph on the topic, and the first book which brings together the social study of genetics and the social study of digital technologies. Or as Barbara Prainsack, one of the reviewers of the book, put it: “This book is a powerful antidote to simplistic portrayals of online genetics as either empowering or harming test-takers. Using novel and innovative methodologies to explore how users and health professionals make sense of online genetics, it provides fascinating and also troubling insights into the meaning of online genetics at the personal, social, and political levels”.