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The importance of place: A history of genetics in 1930s Britain

Marie, Jennifer; (2004) The importance of place: A history of genetics in 1930s Britain. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

My thesis develops the concept of 'settings' for genetics research in 1930s Britain. It shows that settings were associated with stable 'types' of genetics. I establish what these types were and how they remained stable by comparing three characteristics of genetics (funding, research organism, problem choice) at two locations in different settings. I begin by showing that the Department of Zoology/Biometry (DoZ/B) and the Institute of Animal Genetics (IAG) exemplified locations in two of the three settings for genetics study in 1930s Britain: the academic and breeding settings respectively. I also examine how the settings developed between 1900 and 1940. My study of funding demonstrates that the DoZ/B had a closer relationship to the Rockefeller Foundation than the IAG. This was mainly due to research quality, because both locations undertook academic activities. Nevertheless, bodies that funded breeding locations, including the IAG, tended to support applied research, while academic locations generally struggled to gain external funding. My study of research organisms reveals that wild and laboratory organisms were used to gain information about generic organisms at academic locations. At breeding locations domesticated organisms were used to gain information specific to a small group of organisms. I demonstrate that operational behaviour towards organisms also differed between the settings. Finally, I show that problem choice involved the selection of both organism and research area in the breeding setting, but of just research area in the academic setting. Research areas were more synthetic in the academic setting, with the possible exception of cytogenetics. These features of genetics formed the 'types' associated with the breeding and academic settings. The types' differed in both content and the relationship between different characteristics. This relationship was a lot closer in breeding setting than the academic, but provided stability to 'types' in both.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The importance of place: A history of genetics in 1930s Britain
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10108845
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