The Emergence of the General Adaptation Syndrome in Contemporary Health Disparities Discourse Open Access

Dunbar, Deanne (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/x346d495t?locale=en
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Abstract

Abstract
The Emergence of the General Adaptation Syndrome in
Contemporary Health Disparities Discourse

The following is an intellectual history of stress research from the characterization
of the physiological stress response by endocrinologists in the 1930's to the utilization of
this basic science research in the contemporary discussion of differential well-being by
race. After the description of stress in the laboratory, its cooptation by a variety of
disciplines resulted in a broadening of its definition and in particular alterations of its
meaning. Since these changes make our contemporary understanding of stress possible,
it is useful to examine the circumstances in which they occurred.

This paper also undertakes an analysis of the long-standing assertion that
modernization is a cause of increased stress and chronic disease. The persistence of this
view is attributed to the influence of social theory upon explanatory models of
modernization in the social sciences. I argue that mergers between biology and the social
sciences allow the physiological concepts of milieu intérieur and homeostasis to reflect
onto society a Durkheimian ideal of social stability.

As stability becomes defined by sociology and social epidemiology in public
health, it positions stress as an inherent characteristic of communities and environments.
In social epidemiology, the operationalizing of measures of social embeddedness and
cohesion fit the holistic biological perspective which posits the fit between an individual
and his environment as a determinant of health. These directions for stress research have
particular implications for the role of human action in response to stress and the
construction of vulnerability.

Table of Contents

Contents


Introduction…………………………………………………….………………………..............….1

Chapter I: The General Adaptation Syndrome………………………………………..…13


Chapter II: Civilization and Disease……………………….………………………..........34


Chapter II: Racism and Disease……………………….………………………...............66

Conclusion……………………………….…………………………………...…….…................81

Bibliography……………………………………………..……………………................…………86

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