Publication Details

Degeling, C. (2009). Negotiating Value: Comparing Human and Animal Fracture Care in Industrial Societies. Science, Technology and Human Values, 34 (1), 77-101.


At the beginning of the twentieth century, human and veterinary surgeons faced the challenge of a medical marketplace transformed by technology. The socioeconomic value ascribed to their patients was changing, reflecting the increasing mechanization of industry and the decreasing dependence of society on nonhuman animals for labor. In human medicine, concern for the economic consequences of fractures "pathologized" any significant level of posttherapeutic disability, a productivist perspective contrary to the traditional corpus of medical values. In contrast, veterinarians adapted to the mechanization of horsepower by shifting their primary professional interest to companion animals; a type of patient generally valued for the unique emotional attachment of the owner and not their productive capacity. The economic rationalization of human fracture care and the "sentimental" transformation of veterinary orthopedic expertise indicate how these specialists utilized increasingly convergent rhetorical arguments to justify the application of innovative fracture care technologies to their human and animal patients.



Link to publisher version (DOI)