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'To assist, and control, and improve, the operations of nature': fish culture, reproductive technology and social order in Victorian Britain

Message, Reuben (2016) 'To assist, and control, and improve, the operations of nature': fish culture, reproductive technology and social order in Victorian Britain. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis investigates the development of fish culture technology in Victorian Britain. Fish culture included artificial propagation (breeding, incubation and rearing) of fish, as well as the other material practices, forms of regulation, social organisation and discourses that constituted freshwater fisheries conservation in Britain, circa 1830 – 1870. The approach taken is based in both the sociology of science and technology and social history. Fish culture is viewed as an innovative reproductive technology, and positioned as part of the “preHhistory” of modern reproduction. Focusing on the generative interactions of the social and piscine worlds of fish culture, empirical analyses of the social relations or social order of a technology, and its coHconstitution with the society of which it was part are conducted. Focus is also placed specifically on social conflicts of different kinds. These conflicts emerged out of existing social and economic tensions connected to the fisheries and the scientific study of fish – which were themselves connected to wider economic, demographic and political developments in British society in which social hierarchies of different kinds were being challenged and thus also defended and remade. Empirical case studies focus on these conflicts as socio-technical processes involving rivalry over scarce goods – ideal and material – and, specifically, how they were resolved or ameliorated such that social orders were achieved, modified and reproduced. The thesis is positioned as a contribution to the social studies of reproduction, to science and technology studies, and to the substantive sociological and historical understanding of a socio-technical practice of historical interest and, in the form of modern aquaculture, of growing contemporary importance.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Reuben Message
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Desai, Manali and Thompson, Charis

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