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Shanahan, Michael J.; Vaisey, Stephen; Erickson, Lance D.; & Smolen, Andrew (2008). Environmental Contingencies and Genetic Propensities: Social Capital, Educational Continuation, and Dopamine Receptor Gene DRD2. American Journal of Sociology, 114(S1), S260-286.


Studies of gene‐environment interplay typically focus on one environmental factor at a time, resulting in a constrained view of social context. The concept of environmental contingency is introduced as a corrective. Drawing on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and qualitative comparative analysis, the authors focus on an example involving social capital, a gene associated with a dopamine receptor (DRD2), and educational continuation beyond secondary school. For boys, (1) DRD2 risk is associated with a decreased likelihood of school continuation; (2) one configuration of social capital—high parental socioeconomic status, high parental involvement in school, and a high‐quality school—compensates for this negative relationship, consistent with environmental contingency; but (3) boys with DRD2 risk are less commonly observed in settings that are rich in social capital.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Sociology


Shanahan, Michael J.
Vaisey, Stephen
Erickson, Lance D.
Smolen, Andrew