2017 SHI book prize for “CyberGenetics. Health genetics and new media”

Congratulations to Anna Harris, Susan Kelly and Sally Wyatt on winning the 2017 SHI book prize for their fascinating 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 tot he sub-discipline of medical sociology/sociology of health and illness”.

In Cybergenetics, the authors critically examine 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, Harris, Kelly and Wyatt 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”.