Who coined the concept of Homeostasis? | Sociology for CUET by Vikash Ranjan | Sociology Guru


Question: Who coined the concept of Homeostasis?

  1. Talcott Parsons
  2. Walter B. Cannon
  3. Emile Durkheim
  4. B. Malinowski

Answer: (2)

Walter B. Cannon and the Pioneering Concept of Homeostasis

Walter B. Cannon, a pioneering American neurologist and physiologist, left an indelible mark on the fields of medicine and physiology. Among his notable contributions is the introduction of the concept of homeostasis, a term that revolutionized the understanding of the body’s self-regulating mechanisms. In this exploration, we delve into Walter B. Cannon’s life, his groundbreaking work, and the profound implications of the concept of homeostasis in the realms of physiology and beyond.

Walter B. Cannon: A Trailblazer in Physiology:

  1. Early Life and Education:
  • Born on October 19, 1871, in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, Walter Bradford Cannon displayed an early interest in science and biology.
  • He pursued his education at Harvard University, where he earned both his bachelor’s and medical degrees.
  1. X Rays and The Mechanical Factors of Digestion:
  • Cannon’s early career saw his engagement with innovative research techniques. He became one of the first scientists to utilize X rays in physiological investigations.
  • In 1911, he published “The Mechanical Factors of Digestion,” a seminal work that showcased his advancements in the study of gastrointestinal processes using X rays.

Homeostasis: The Conceptual Breakthrough:

  1. Origins of the Term Homeostasis:
  • The term “homeostasis” emerged from Cannon’s profound insights into the body’s ability to maintain internal stability.
  • Cannon introduced the concept in the early 20th century, signifying a paradigm shift in understanding the physiological mechanisms that preserve a balanced internal environment.
  1. Definition and Significance:
  • Homeostasis, as conceptualized by Cannon, refers to the body’s inherent capacity to regulate its internal conditions within a narrow range, despite external fluctuations.
  • This dynamic equilibrium is vital for the proper functioning of physiological processes, ensuring stability in parameters such as temperature, blood pressure, and pH.

Cannon’s Seminal Contributions:

  1. Fight-or-Flight Response:
  • Cannon’s investigations extended to the study of stress and the body’s response to threatening stimuli.
  • He coined the term “fight-or-flight” to describe the physiological reactions triggered in response to stress, highlighting the activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
  1. Traumatic Shock Research:
  • Cannon’s contributions during World War I included extensive research on traumatic shock.
  • His findings, published in “Traumatic Shock” (1923), delved into the physiological changes accompanying shock and laid the groundwork for advancements in shock treatment.
  1. Discovery of Sympathin:
  • In 1931, Cannon discovered sympathin, a substance with adrenaline-like properties. This discovery provided insights into neurotransmission and the role of sympathetic nerves in physiological responses.

Methodological Advances and Legacy:

  1. Empirical Rigor and Interdisciplinary Approach:
  • Cannon’s approach was characterized by empirical rigor, innovative techniques, and an interdisciplinary perspective.
  • His use of X rays, alongside physiological experiments, exemplified the integration of technology and experimentation in advancing medical science.
  1. Legacy in Physiology:
  • Cannon’s legacy reverberates through the fields of physiology, neurology, and endocrinology.
  • The concept of homeostasis remains a cornerstone in understanding physiological regulation and has influenced diverse disciplines, including medicine, psychology, and systems biology.


Walter B. Cannon’s groundbreaking contributions, particularly the conceptualization of homeostasis, have left an enduring legacy in the scientific community. His innovative research methodologies, coupled with a keen interdisciplinary approach, propelled the understanding of the body’s intricate mechanisms for maintaining internal stability. Cannon’s work continues to resonate across various scientific domains, underscoring the enduring impact of his insights on human physiology and the broader landscape of scientific inquiry.


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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Question: Define the term “ethnic movement” and provide an example from India.

Answer: An ethnic movement refers to a collective effort by a group sharing common cultural, linguistic, or religious traits, seeking to assert their identity and rights; an example from India is the Khalistan Movement in Punjab.

2. Question: Identify the main objectives behind the Gorkhaland ethnic movement.

Answer: The Gorkhaland ethnic movement primarily seeks to establish a separate state for India’s Nepali-speaking population in the Darjeeling region, advocating for linguistic and cultural recognition and political autonomy.

3. Question: What was the Operation Blue Star, and which ethnic movement was it related to?
Answer: Operation Blue Star was a military action in 1984, aiming to remove Sikh militants hiding in the Golden Temple in Amritsar; it is related to the Khalistan movement, which sought a separate Sikh country.

4. Question: Mention a critical factor that triggered the emergence of ethnic movements in India, as discussed by Dipankar Gupta.
Answer: Dipankar Gupta emphasized that ethnicity is fundamentally a political process, wherein caste and religion, the key components of identity formation, are politicized by leaders for vested interests.

5. Question: What were the primary reasons for the Assam Ethnicity conflicts involving Bodo tribals and Bengali Muslim settlers?
Answer: The Assam Ethnicity conflicts primarily stemmed from issues related to immigration, land rights, and resource allocation, leading to clashes, riots, and evolving relationships among indigenous communities to address challenges.

6. Question: Briefly describe the role of the Dravidian Movement in terms of caste and societal structure.
Answer: The Dravidian Movement, led notably by E.V. Ramasamy, aimed to establish an egalitarian society, focusing on anti-Brahmanism and advocating for equal rights for backward castes, while also introducing reforms like self-respect marriages.

7. Question: Name the prominent ethnic movements in North-East India and specify one common objective.
Answer: Prominent ethnic movements in North-East India include the Nagas’ and Mizos’ struggles; a common objective was to gain autonomy and recognition for their distinct tribal identities and cultural uniqueness.

8. Question: What is the key argument of Gail Omveldt regarding traditional Indian society and multiculturalism?
Answer: Gail Omveldt opposed romanticizing traditional Indian society, arguing that hierarchy has always dominated it and dismissing the notion that multiculturalism is an intrinsic feature of Indian society as a myth.

9. Question: Briefly explain the social hierarchy factor as a contributing element to ethnic movements as suggested by Olzak.
Answer: Olzak suggests that the construction of hierarchies among ethnic communities, which often leads to the suppression of one group by another, is a key factor that can instigate social and ethnic movements.

10. Question: Identify one consequence of the unequal economic development factor within the context of ethnic movements in India.
Answer: One consequence of unequal economic development is the marginalization and underdevelopment of certain groups, leading to feelings of alienation and sometimes initiating ethnic movements as these groups strive for equality and recognition.

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