The controversy over the genetic explanation for racial differences in intelligence and behavior has been sustained by the platform the field of behavior genetics has offered race researchers. Explanations of this support have focused on political or scientific rationalities: behavior geneticists must support the claim that blacks are genetically less intelligent either for political reasons or they believe that conclusion is an unavoidable conclusion of objective science. These explanations do not withstand scrutiny given the field’s political diversity, self-image as a scientific endeavor, and skepticism about the scientificity of genetic racial explanations. Using qualitative data from interviews and the historical record, this article offers an alternate two-part explanation that focuses first, on the forces and struggles behavior geneticists faced as a field during the IQ and race controversy in the 1970s, and second, on the way sanctuary for race researchers has helped the field project images of strength to build scientific authority. The article offers a retheorization of scientific authority beyond the Weberian focus on legitimacy. It is shown to be first embedded in the relational structure of the field and second connected to the symbolic resources that provocative, though illegitimate, ideas can offer scientists.
American Journal of Cultural Sociology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 20, 2017
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