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Description de l’éditeur
The recent expansion and practical application of genetic research has fostered--depending on one s perception--utopian dreams of a world without disability or dystopian nightmares of a world that is both largely devoid and highly contemptuous of people with disabilities. As professionals, social workers play an integral role in both implementation of genetic research and facilitation of the inclusion of people with disabilities within the community. Not only genetic counseling, but other forms of individual and family treatment are certain to be more greatly affected by genetic research and public policies related to it in the near future. Moreover, social work professionals from a broad range of backgrounds must be involved in policy discussions and development relevant to these bioethical concerns. In regard to advocacy, little explication needs to be given that advocacy is an important element of social work and that this issue arises particularly in regard to potentially vulnerable or historically maltreated groups, such as people with disabilities. To understand the professional role of social workers within the context of a "new world" of genetics, social workers should be aware of important historical precursors, especially the eugenic alarm period of the early 20th century. Although many in the profession may be familiar with the basic elements of eugenic control, the relevance of this historical information is not only instructive, but also essential to anyone who seeks to engage in discussions related to the current or future application of genetic research. In addition, professionals must understand that although the medical model may seem to be the most apt approach for viewing relevant issues, other frames of reference exist. Also important is the social or minority group model of disability. I describe the impact of historical eugenics on contemporary genetics and the role of the social model of disabilities within the context of these contemporary issues, and I discuss implications for social workers, especially as they attempt to consider the need to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities in the face of these innovations.