Synopses & Reviews
We rely on environmental health scientists to document the presence of chemicals where we live, work, and play and to provide an empirical basis for public policy. In the last decades of the 20th century, environmental health scientists began to shift their focus deep within the human body, and to the molecular level, in order to investigate gene-environment interactions. In Exposed Science, Sara Shostak analyzes the rise of gene-environment interaction in the environmental health sciences and examines its consequences for how we understand and seek to protect population health. Drawing on in-depth interviews and ethnographic observation, Shostak demonstrates that what we know and#150; and what we donand#8217;t know and#150; about the vulnerabilities of our bodies to environmental hazards is profoundly shaped by environmental health scientistsand#8217; efforts to address the structural vulnerabilities of their field. She then takes up the political effects of this research, both from the perspective of those who seek to establish genomic technologies as a new basis for environmental regulation, and from the perspective of environmental justice activists, who are concerned that that their efforts to redress the social, political, and economical inequalities that put people at risk of environmental exposure will be undermined by molecular explanations of environmental health and illness. Exposed Science thus offers critically important new ways of understanding and engaging with the emergence of gene-environment interaction as a focal concern of environmental health science, policy-making, and activism.
"Exposed Science's overview of the process of environmental science and regulation will be novel for most. . . . Recommended."
"[Shostak's] method is unimpeachable . . .The reader could not ask for a better guide."
and#147;This is a remarkable book by an extraordinary sociologist of science. Sara Shostak raises troubling questions about how we, as a society, avoid responsibility for the consequences of a variety of environmental exposuresand#151;from lead, Bisphenol A, and other contaminants. Shostak persuasively argues that the historical origins of the genetic understanding of environmental disease lay not so much in advancing knowledge but more likely in the profound politics of science and of society. and#8221;and#151;David Rosner, co-author of Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America's Children
and#147;This research offers a significant and unique window onto an emerging field that many people have little knowledge about and that many other people have strong views about. The insights and conclusions herein provide a new way of thinking about genomics and environmental politics and policy.and#8221;and#151;David Pellow, author of Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago.
and#147;Professor Shostak is theoretically advanced, but manages to convey her theoretical approaches without the dense, clumsy language we see too often. Her analysis is nuanced overall, rendering a multicausal understanding of the complexity of these scientific developments and their associated cultural phenomena.and#8221;and#151;Phil Brown, University Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Health Sciences, and Director of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute, Northeastern University
About the Author
Sara Shostak is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University.
Table of Contents
and#147;Toxicology is a Political Scienceand#8221;
The Consensus Critique
and#147;Opening the Black Box of the Human Bodyand#8221;
Making a Molecular Regulatory Science
The Molecular is Political