Body Matters: Essays on the Sociology of the Body

By Sue Scott; David Morgan | Go to book overview
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Chapter 9

Afterward: Constructing a Research Agenda

David Morgan and Sue Scott

It is clear that 'The Body' is very much on the agenda, not only in sociology but also in history, literary and cultural studies and, of course, feminist and women's studies. To say that a particular topic or subject area is on the agenda may mean one of two things. In the first place it may mean that a new subdiscipline is in the process of developing. This may be one of a series of subdisciplines-the sociology of the body, the history of the body, the social anthropology of the body and so on-or it may be the development of a new, genuinely interdisciplinary, subject area or subdiscipline. This latter variation seems less likely at present and what we are likely to get is a series of subdisciplinary developments, each open in varying degrees to the influence of and developments within the other subdisciplines. In the second place, we may see a gradual and uneven influence through the different disciplines as wholes. In other words, rather than the development of the Sociology of the Body we may have the continuing development of Sociology but a development that comes to adopt a more embodied perspective. We have argued that we should prefer the latter although, in the nature of things, the development of a specialized Sociology of the Body is the more likely with its own course modules, text books and, eventually, journals. In practice there is no reason why those who wish to develop a new subdiscipline should not do so, the hope being that this development will not develop cult-or sect-like characteristics but will continue to be open to developments within the discipline as a whole and that there will continue to be some kind of open traffic between the more established sectors of the subject and this relatively new area.

In presenting this somewhat immodest sounding chapter 'Constructing a research agenda' , we are doing so in the hope that at least some of our colleagues, working in very different areas, will at least consider the possibilities of thinking through the implications of developments in the sociology of the body. The main argument is that the issues raised in the preceding pages and in many of the recent works and studies that have been cited here and elsewhere are 'good to think with'. To say this is not, therefore, to attempt to construct a new orthodoxy but rather to encourage the development of a variety of heterodoxies. As we have suggested, few of the key issues can be regarded as settled and there may be some doubt as to whether that might be a reasonable expectation in the first place. Our approach also allows for the possibility for practitioners to decide that a more


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