Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Beyond the Gene


Reconceptualising Inheritance

For over a century the concept of genetic inheritance has had a powerful hold on the scientific and popular imagination. Epigenetic research shows that there is not a straightforward inheritance of a code for specific characteristics: the processes of development (and of change in later life) are far more messy, and are contingent on a multiplicity of external factors.

Once the explanatory framework of genetic causation is gone, what new interpretive frameworks will take its place? For example, a healthy start in life is increasingly being conceptualised not in terms of genetic inheritance but in terms of development during the first thousand days of life. What are the implications of this shift for social and health policy? And what are the cultural implications of dismantling the concept of genetic inheritance, when it has such a powerful grip on the cultural imaginary, as evidenced by the popularity of such programmes as Who Do You Think You Are?

Privacy Settings