Pavlov's physiology factory.

D. P. Todes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The author examines the forces and relations of production in Pavlov's laboratory at the Imperial Institute of Experimental Medicine during the first phase of its operation (1891-1904). As in any production site, the forces of production included its physical plant and technologies, its workforce (with its skills), and management's ideas about what constituted good products and how best to produce them. In Pavlov's laboratory, these included a physical plant adapted for physiological surgery and "chronic experiments," dog-technologies and experimental practices created in accordance with Pavlov's Bernardian vision of physiology, and a workforce dominated by physicians untrained in physiology who were seeking quick doctoral degrees. The relations of production featured an authoritarian structure and cooperative ethos that allowed Pavlov to use coworkers as extensions of his sensory reach, while enabling him constantly to monitor the work process, to control the "interpretive moments" in experiments, to incorporate results into his developing ideas, and to convert them efficiently into marketable products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-246
Number of pages43
JournalIsis; an international review devoted to the history of science and its cultural influences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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