The other big science: psychiatric genetics and the strategy of going big
Arribas-Ayllon, Michael, Bartlett, Andrew and Lewis, Jamie. (2019) Psychiatric Genetics: From Hereditary Madness to Big Biology. London: Routledge
Porter, Theodore M. (2018) Genetics in the Madhouse: The Unknown History of Human Heredity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
The organizational structure of science is changing: the scientist working in isolation or in a small research group is becoming a rarity, replaced by a scientific bureaucrat operating within large, managed institutions. Typified by areas like quantum and astrophysics which are organized around increasingly expensive and massive instruments, Big Science has altered the practical and professional organization of many fields.
However, two recent books that address the history and current state of a very different field, psychiatric genetics, offer a picture of a different type of Big Science. Rather than hierarchical networks surrounding physical instruments, these books showcase a science defined by horizontal...