If we often have unrealistic expectations about DNA and gene research, this is due to the fact that any scientific discovery elicits prospects of substantial change. Such innovations transcend the frontiers of science and become, in everyday life, an icon of the future and a symbol of well-being and progress. A member of a European research network on clinical genetics, Federico Neresini personally underwent the mapping of his own genome and other ensuing experiences. Exploiting the diary he kept in real time, the sociologist depicts DNA as a social phenomenon, reflecting its image in the media, the magical belief in “a gene for everything”, the menace of eugenics, and the business of online genomics. The author explains why individual genetic destinies do not exist: DNA mapping only describes the “average situation of the known population”.
Federico Neresini teaches Sociology of Innovation at the University of Padova, is chief editor of the “Italian Sociology Review” and coordinates the Padova Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies (PaSTIS) research unit.