sociology of the body

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Michel Foucault (1926—1984) French philosopher

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Pierre Bourdieu (1930—2002)


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Influenced by the writings of Michel Foucault, which assert sociology's neglect of the body, sociologists who practise this relatively new specialism analyse humans as embodied persons—not just as actors with values and attitudes. They explore the varied cultural meanings attached to bodies, and the way they are controlled, regulated, and reproduced, paying especial attention to illness, disease, and sexuality. A good introduction to the field is Bryan S. Turner's The Body and Society (1996). The study of the body has developed into a very broad strand in modern sociological research. It includes such diverse themes as sex therapy, contemporary dance, the body-building industry, the management of children, use of food, and images of lesbians and gays. These apparently esoteric themes are usually connected to central issues of social theory, such as those of control, order, and ideology. Sociologists of the body have also made an increasing contribution to the study of illness and to medical sociology. The scope of this increasingly popular specialism is illustrated in the range of topics addressed in Sue Scott and David Morgan (eds.), Body Matters (1993). See also emotion, sociology of; food, sociological studies of; gender; nature versus nurture debate.

http://intl-bod.sagepub.com/ The journal Body & Society: the leading source for research in this area. (Subscription)

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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