METHODOLOGY OF SOCIAL HYGIENE
Author: Veselin Borisov
The monograph aim is to contribute the satisfaction of social hygiene science need for self-knowledge, for methodological reflection. By means of a generalized theoretical analysis the author grounds an original conception both for the systematic integrative character of social hygiene knowledge and its future development tendencies. The increasing methodological function of social hygiene thinking style is being shown.
A lot of discussion problems are being considered in the monograph. The contemporary social hygiene is a very interesting unique scientific phenomenon, which is difficult to be put into the traditional ideas and designs for medical science disciplinary organization. The wide spreading social hygiene object scope troubles with its synonymous definition and differentiation from other scientific disciplines.
For that reason the author uses the concepts terminal object /object-aim/ and instrumental object /object-source/ of social hygiene science. Special attention is being paid to the tendency of social hygiene passage in social hygiene interdisciplinary scientific complex and a plan for classification of the complex is being worked out.
1. Coordination of social hygiene science
1.1 Development and tendencies of disciplinary foundation in social hygiene
1.1.1 Contemporary status of social hygiene – emergence from scientific conglomerate to scientific system.
1.2 Object and objective contents of social hygiene.
1.3 Specifics and structure of the objective domain in social hygiene.
1.3.1. Definition of public health.
1.3.2. Conceptual model of public health.
1.3.3. Typology of public health phenomena.
1.4. Style of life as an object of social hygiene knowledge.
1.5. Methods and methodic of social hygiene. Adequacy of using methods.
1.5.1. Tendencies of methodic approaches in social hygiene.
1.5.2. Typology of social hygiene methods.
1.5.3. Mathematization of social hygiene.
1.6. Problems of institutionalization of social hygiene.
1.6.1. Citation and contra-citation in social hygiene literature.
1.7. Ideological aspects of social hygiene.
2. Horizons of social hygiene science.
2.1. Factors and criteria of differentiation in social hygiene.
2.1.1. Tendencies for theoretical foundations of social hygiene as independent scientific discipline.
2.2. Social Hygiene knowledge as integrative scientific phenomenon.
2.2.1. Interrelations of social hygiene.
2.2.2. Definition of social hygiene complex.
2.2.3. Classification of social hygiene complex.
2.2.4. Social Hygiene style of thinking.
2.3. Social hygiene and general theory of public health.
Addendum: Let me try to explain a couple of things about this book. It has taken some time, until this commentary has fermented in the mind of the reviewer. The monograph from Prof. V. Borisov is unique in its scope for a representative of a socialist type of literature, moreover we couldn't find an analogue in kin writings from the countries of the former satellites of the Soviet Union. It is not because the book is some extraordinary methodological achievement, rather it posed challenge from the standpoint of the sources and references which the author has used. We have read the book carefully several times and reach to the conclusion of the following structural scheme - viz., this is strictly provisional and does not comply with the opinion of the book's author himself.
The first thematic plane of the book comprise a historical review of the subject matter of social hygiene. Most of the stuff here is concentrated around the german socialdemocrat and medical doctor Alfred Grotjahn. His role of establishing a social hygiene Chair in Berlin has been emphasized and commentaries on his book "Social Pathology" /1912/ has been lavishly made in this first part. The difficult part of the research was to find authentic materials on Grotjahn himself in the international literature and this proved beyond our capabilities as reviewers. We could find only a short biographical sketch in german language and most of it was concerned with his biographical memoir issued in Germany - namely, "A. Grotjahn. Erlebtes und Erstrebtes: Erinnerungen eines Sozialistischen Arztes /1923/".
In the same level of thinking and we continued our research until we found a second clue on the life and activities of A. Grotjahn. This time it was about his political polemics with another eminent physician from Germany at that time - namely, Prof. Erwin Liek from Danzig. Dr. Liek was a cancer surgeon and cancer prevention activist, who withhold a racial hygiene position and was instrumental in establishing of the Nazi regime with the Hitler government. Details on their polemic are not available, but there should exist some extra material on the pages of medical journals from that time. As a result, the short time existence of Social Hygiene Chair in Berlin was abolished and medical thought was concentrated entirely on racist matters and racist politics. More research is necessary, subsequently to elucidate the origins of modern social hygiene thought. Meanwhile, another branch of thinking was differentiated as a parallel in England - namely, John Ryle and social medicine development.
So far, these are commentaries from the first 50 pages of the book. The second part of the book is engaged with the state of affairs of social hygiene science in the socialist world - viz., starting with establishment of first Social Hygiene Department in Moscow University /1920/. The apologues of the science were N. Semashko and Z. Soloveyev. Our research from that period is scanty, however an excellent review on the Soviet health system exist from german historian of medicine and later a Yale scholar Henry Sigerist. On the premises of the book at hand and we should like to denote, that this second part is highly politicized. A role of soviet science is overemphasized, although we know from the review of international literature that the discipline itself was in decline from the mid 1960s. The last adherent to a social medicine doctrine was an englishman Thomas McKeown and from that time on the whole methodological apparatus of the discipline was transferred to the burgeoning science of epidemiology. Theoretical epidemiology became a fundamental basis for public health disciplines, while social hygiene became a platform for historical reflection.
However, a methodological flaw for holistic public health science from the period of the Cold War was ignorance for the achievements of western theoreticians and staunch opposition from the side of social hygiene specialists from Eastern Europe. This is reflected on the pages of the book and some 2/3 of the material is encompassing studies from soviet and other socialist authors - viz., here are names of Y. Lisitzin, G. Tzaregorodsev, V. Petlenko, etc; from other socialist countries are names of A. Zaĉek, K. Winter, B. Smulevich, etc. Altogether, the book is a wide panorama of socialist public health thinking and it systematically reflects an apostasies of methodological approaches.
Finally, the last chapter is engaged with institutionalization matters. This part of the book lacks originality and we do not wish to comment on it, whatsoever. We are confident, that many of the methodological blunders in this book are superseded by now and the 21st century will dominate some new public health expertise.
Picture 1: Photograph from the late years of Prof. Alfred Grotjahn in Berlin /1933/.
(i). Actually, it is presented here Prof. A. Grotjahn on one of his tours around town as a city-mayor in the company of Dr. Joseph Goebbels and other official guests, ditto.
Addendum II: An article on Alfred Grotjahn in the "Bulletin of New York Academy of Medicine" (1936) is available from here,
Copyright © 2005, 2006 by the author.