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Welcome to the Website of the Independent Research Group SoSciBio

Independent Research Group: Human Diversity in the New Life Sciences: Social and Scientific Effects of Biological Differentiations (SoSciBio)

During the last few decades and on the basis of new technological possibilities (molecular genetics, neuroimaging, data processing) attention has increasingly been redirected towards the biological diversity of humans. The research group intends to provide the first systematic, empirical analysis of the effects of biological differentiations along racial, ethnic, sex and gender categories in a German context. To this end, six case studies will be conducted in the areas of medicine/epidemiology, neuroscience, pharmacology, forensics, evolutionary genetics and daily clinical practice.

Biological differentiation in the life sciences pursues such diverse goals as an improved understanding of disease, more exact forensic methods as well as a deeper knowledge of human migratory history. These approaches intersect with political efforts to even out the health inequalities between different sexes/gender and races/ethnicities by representing all relevant groups in clinical studies, for example. In the meantime, however, a broad, scientific discussion has developed regarding (the use of) these categories that expounds the problems of stereotyping and reductionism, while also addressing the potential stigmatization of minorities.

Our research aims to contribute to the early identification of the societal effects of biological differentiation in Germany. The project purposes to bring responsible and reflexive approaches in the life sciences together with those in the humanities and social sciences in order to minimize the undesired scientific and social effects of biological differentiation. Concerning the theoretical framework, the project is rooted in science and technology studies (STS) and the sociology of knowledge, science and medicine. In terms of methodology, document analysis, interviews, and participant observation will be applied to follow the actual practices involved in constructing categories of human variation.

Funded within the programme on "Independent Research Groups in the Area of Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects of the Life Sciences", Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, funding number 01GP1790), duration: 3/2018-7/2024.