sociology of the body


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sociology of the body

an important new area of specialism within sociology which has sought to repair a previous relative neglect of the BODY, and the implications of’embodiment’.

In recent years there has been an increase in popular as well as academic interest in the body 'social’. Academic interest is related to the growing influence of FEMINISM, Foucauldian scholarship (see FOUCAULT) and postmodernism (see POSTMODERNITY AND POSTMODERNISM) – schools of thought which focus attention on the body as a social product as well as a physical entity. Popular interest in the body is indicated by the multimillion-dollar industries promoting exercise courses and weight reduction plans, the growth in popularity of self-help therapies and alternative medicine, and the emphasis on the body as an expression of individual identity. Further, the moral debates of the 1980s over contraception, ABORTION, PORNOGRAPHY, embryo experimentation and HOMOSEXUALITY, the emergence of AIDS, and more recent controversy over drug use in sport or genetic engineering, have raised issues of interest to the population as a whole as well as to sociologists. The emerging sociology of the body has contributed to an understanding of the social regulation of bodies, particularly by legal and medical institutions (Foucault, 1973; Turner, 1984,1987,1992) and particularly of those bodies perceived as ‘other’ or as ‘out of control’. The sociology of the body has also been concerned with issues of CONSUMPTION (see Featherstone, 1991) and has addressed the important issues of SUBJECTIVITY, IDENTITY and the fashioning of the SELF (GIDDENS, 1991).

Recent developments in genetic manipulation, cloning techniques, the creation of transgenic organisms and artificial life forms (among others) have led to debate about the future of the body. Donna HARAWAY has argued that the human body is being encroached upon (by other organisms and by CYBORG technologies) at the same time as it extends into other areas like CYBERSPACE. Haraway argues that we are already cyborg, using machine technologies to transcend the limitations of the physical body; future generations are thus unlikely to be ‘pure’ human. In the 21st century then, our physical bodies as well as our cultural identities have become fully reflexive.

References in periodicals archive ?
Her areas of research specialization include health, health care and health policy; alternative and complementary therapy; chronic illness and disability; deviance and stigma management; sociology of the body; home care and home support; qualitative research methods; and symbolic interactionist theory.
Frank, Arthur, (1991) 'For a Sociology of the Body. An Analytical Review', in: H.A.T.
Another research perspective developing in the early twenty-first century in the research conducted by behavioral science in the context of thanatology is "sociology of the body".
Cregan (sociology, Monash U., Australia) offers this study guide for sociology of the body. The text consists of a long list of glossary headings alphabetically arranged, each with a definition box and several pages of intellectual history on related discourses and important thinkers.
Lining up her influences from Frank's early sociology of the body to Featherstone and Turner's co-editing of Body and Society in the mid 1990s, Blackman sets about deftly answering this question by reentering into the current turn to affect, and almost synonymous revival of nineteenth-century crowd theory, from a unique position.
Yet, I believe that Marcuse's arguments are more sophisticated than such readings suggest, and, in the context of the recent revival of interest in the sociology of the body, it is perhaps an apposite moment to revisit his writings.
Their topics include medical sociology approaching old age, cultures of aging, sociology of the body and embodiment, feminist gerontology, bodily control, the arc of acquiescence, and second modernity and later life.
She is author of Sociology of the Body: Mapping the Anthropology and Sociology of Embodiment (Sage, London, March 2006) and The Theatre of the Body: Staging Death and Embodying Life in Early Modern London (Brepols, forthcoming).
Borrowing from philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, visual studies (including work on photography and art), surveillance studies and the sociology of the body, Jenny Edkins' Face Politics skillfully weaves an interdisciplinary account which shows how faces exercise power in modern society.
Through 43 short articles and overviews, each about 4 pages, this text provides a broad survey of the main themes that run through and inform the varied work around the sociology of the body. Written to be accessible to all, the text can be used by students in cultural studies, social sciences, literary studies, anthropology, politics, theater studies, nursing, and allied health studies.
Authors write to the following orienting perspectives: sociological, feminist post-structuralist, sociology of the body and (emerging) sociology of impairment, activist, new social movements and identity theory, social historical, social policy and social inclusion, politics and policy, globalization theory and human rights, with one paper on the exigencies of emancipatory research and disability.
Kate Cregan is the author of forthcoming publication The Body Turns: The Anthropology and Sociology of the Body (Sage, 2004).