Lawrence Joseph Henderson: Bridging Laboratory and Social Life
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CitationMunoz, Mateo Jasmine. 2014. Lawrence Joseph Henderson: Bridging Laboratory and Social Life. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractThis study uses the professional trajectory of the Harvard-trained physical chemist and physiologist Lawrence Joseph Henderson to show how the nascent and highly mobile interconnections between biomedicine and social theory began to crystallize around the concept of the social system in the middle decades of the twentieth century. The social system became a powerful and persuasive way of relating vastly different concepts and their consequences, e.g., the laboratory and social life. By focusing on L.J. Henderson and the social system, this study brings the history of biomedicine into dialogue with the history of the social sciences in a new and interesting way by offering an alternative (pre-cybernetics) genealogy of systems theory. This dissertation is an examination of Henderson's cross-disciplinary application of the concept of the social system in three domains: the social sciences, medicine, and industry. Henderson is a historically interesting case because he allows us a unique point of view--the ability to see border crossings between the social sciences and the life sciences in more than one domain. I argue that the transformation of social theory in inter-war America should be understood as part of a broader set of mid-twentieth century developments in the life sciences in general, and human physiology in particular.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:12274511
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