The Lived Body: Sociological Themes, Embodied Issues

The Lived Body: Sociological Themes, Embodied Issues

The Lived Body: Sociological Themes, Embodied Issues

The Lived Body: Sociological Themes, Embodied Issues

Synopsis

The 'Lived' Body takes a fresh look at the problem of human embodiment through a critical examination of the dualist legacies of the past. A broad range of classical and contemporary social theorists are surveyed -- from Marx to Freud, Foucault to Giddens, Deleuze to Guattari and Irigaray to Grosz -- in terms of the bodily themes and issues they raise. A variety of new areas of research in this rapidly expanding field are also considered, including medical technology and the "fate" of human embodiment, the sociology of emotion, the problem of pain, sleep and dreams, and the relationship between the body, art and society.

Excerpt

In a now classic paper, Dawe (1971) explores what he sees to be the two main alternative sociological traditions to the question of society, both of which emerged from a reaction to the Enlightenment. the first takes as its problem the establishment of order and asserts the ontological primacy of social systems over social actors. To the extent that individual intention is theorised, it is said to derive from the central societal value system. Within this paradigm, the spectre of the ‘over-socialised’ conception of ‘man’ looms large (Wrong 1961). the second tradition, in contrast, is premised on the alternative notion of ‘autonomous man’ and takes as its problematic the libertarian question of how humankind can assert control over the institutions it creates. Thus a vocabulary of social action, will and agency follow: society is the creation of its members, not an abstract, reified, reality sui generis.

Underpinning these issues are deeper corporeal questions concerning the relationship between the body and society. Whilst social ‘order’ is ultimately concerned with the regulation and restraint of individual and collective bodies across time and space, social ‘control’, on the other hand, is premised upon the alternative problematic of bodily use and the embodiment of social action. in this chapter, we take a closer look at these issues through the notion of bodily order and the related problem of corporeal ‘transgression’. in doing so, we examine a selection of key thinkers who, from different vantage points, have taken the problems of bodily order and corporeal transgression as their implicit, if not explicit, starting point. These include Hertz and Douglas on the symbolic aspects of bodily order, Foucault on disciplinary technologies of power/knowledge, and Elias on the ‘civilised’ body. in addition, we also consider Turner’s analysis of ‘bodily order’, together with Falk’s recent attempt to theorise corporeality as a transgressive mode of bodily being; one which is endlessly elaborated through the broader sociocultural order. Seen in these terms, bodily order and corporeal transgression are intimately related. Hence it is to the first of these issues, the ‘symbolic’ body, that we now turn.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.