Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952668 | Print ISBN: 9781412909488 | Online ISBN: 9781412952668| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Eugenics , from Greek roots eu- (meaning “good”) and gen- (“birth” or “family”), is often translated as “wellborn.” Eugenics is the application of genetic studies to the improvement of the human species–genetic manipulation to produce so-called better human beings. Applied eugenics, widely popular in the United States and northern Europe in the early 20th century, sought to control the heredity of individuals or groups carrying supposedly desirable and undesirable genes by evaluating their phenotypes, or expressed physical/behavioral traits. Selective breeding methods included positive eugenics, such as providing marriage incentives and parenting rewards, and negative eugenics, such as mandatory sterilization, segregation, and genocide. Although the eugenics movement began as a progressive effort to eradicate social ills of feeble-mindedness, poverty, drunkenness, prostitution, criminality, epilepsy, and insanity in the mid- to late 19th century, desirable and undesirable quickly equated to superior and inferior and, in the racialized atmosphere of Western culture, attached to ...