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Eugenics movements emerged at the turn of the 20th century in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Eugenics encouraged the improvement of the gene pool through a variety of methods: encouraging those with good genetics to breed, discouraging those with bad genetics from breeding, outlawing marriage between those with bad genes, and even forced sterilization. While early eugenicists may have had noble goals, in practice eugenics allowed those in society with power (e.g., White people and upper-class people) to feel superior. Eugenicists allowed people to believe that many social ills were due to bad genetics; there was much less focus on the social environment in which people lived. Whether its intention or not, eugenics allowed for the development of scientific racism. This entry examines the ...

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