Regulating Bodies: Essays in Medical Sociology

Regulating Bodies: Essays in Medical Sociology

Regulating Bodies: Essays in Medical Sociology

Regulating Bodies: Essays in Medical Sociology

Synopsis

Bryan Turner is generally acknowledged to have been the key figure in opening up the sociological debate about the body. In this coruscating and fascinating book he shows how his thinking on the subject has developed and why sociologists must take the body seriously.

Excerpt

Autobiographical details about the development of ideas and their publication may no longer be regarded in some quarters as authoritative according to the norms of contemporary textual analysis, but in my view they may at least count as partial evidence. How can one know where, when and why a particular train of thought eventually appears to result in ‘a project’? My own development over the last ten years seems in any event deeply bound up with the journal Theory, Culture & Society, and so ‘my’ project is inevitably collective. the diversity of interests which is represented by that journal may go some way to explaining my own somewhat eclectic approach to sociological theory. Much of the work of the journal over the last decade has been associated with the study of consumerism (Featherstone 1991), leisure, sport and the body (Featherstone et al. 1991). Partly as a consequence of this array of topics, my attempt to develop a sociology of the body has been shaped by a plethora of writers: Berger, Bourdieu, Deleuze, Douglas, Elias, Foucault and O’Neill. If there is any epistemological theme in my sociological work, it is based on a hostility to intellectual specialization which is the mark of the professional academic. My heroes have always worked on a very broad canvas.

To be more specific and to start somewhere near the beginning, my interest in the sociology of the body was the consequence of a number of diverse intellectual issues and concerns. It grew partly out of studying Peter Berger’s interpretation of the legacy of Marx, Weber and Durkheim for the sociological understanding of how ‘the world’ is socially constructed (Berger 1969). It was by approaching the sociology of religion through the perspective of Berger’s sociology of knowledge that I came eventually to see the body as the key to debates about theodicy, soteriology and . . .

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