Race and Criminology in the Age of Genomic Science

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Objective. To survey the contemporary literature in the social and biological sciences relevant to race that examines both the reality and the usefulness of the concept. Race is considered a major correlate of criminal behavior, and thus a fresh look at the concept is of obvious importance to criminologists and sociologists. Method. Social, genetic, medical, and criminology databases were keyword searched for articles on race that either addressed its existence/nonexistence or usefulness as a concept. Results. We find that biologist and social constructionists talk past one another and never venture beyond the comfort of their own positions. Genetic studies using very few chromosomal loci find that genetic polymorphisms divide human populations into clusters with almost 100 percent accuracy and that they correspond to the traditional anthropological categories. Conclusion. There is much to gain by recognizing that these categories differ genetically, and that we can dispense with the term race in favor of some other term such as population or ethnic group and nothing would be lost except a word.