This paper is concerned with the ways in which people who work in and use a cancer genetics clinic in the UK talk about the ‘gene for cancer’. By conceptualising such a gene as a boundary object, and using empirical data derived from clinic consultations, observations in a genetics laboratory and interviews with patients, the author seeks to illustrate how the various parties involved adopt different discursive strategies to appropriate, describe and understand what is apparently the ‘same’ thing. The consequent focus on the ways in which the rhetorical and syntactical features of lay and professional talk interlink and diverge, illustrates not merely how our contemporary knowledge of genes and genetics is structured, but also how different publics position themselves with respect to the biochemistry of life.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science