Self-Care: Embodiment, Personal Autonomy, and the Shaping of Health Consciousness

Self-Care: Embodiment, Personal Autonomy, and the Shaping of Health Consciousness

Self-Care: Embodiment, Personal Autonomy, and the Shaping of Health Consciousness

Self-Care: Embodiment, Personal Autonomy, and the Shaping of Health Consciousness


This book examines the widespread cultural and political consequences of the proliferation of popular health advice. It provides a key theoretical contribution to the sociological study of health and embodiment by illuminating the processes of social change that have transformed how individuals care for themselves and the ways in which power and desire now shape health behaviour. Self-Care will be of essential interest to students and academics working within the fields of sociology, health and social welfare.


At last someone has brought together in one book all the information necessary to lead a life of ever increasing happiness. Michael speaks to you about all the most vital questions of life as well as the fulfilment of desires, the power of the mind and spiritual knowledge. absolute happiness will help you get ahead in just about any area. […] absolute happiness is a stunning revelation of how you create all the events and circumstances of your life. It will show you the way to becoming happier and happier each day, as well as how to easily achieve your desires. It is filled with techniques, methods and processes, as well as inspiring stories.

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According to the covers of self-help books, people have the power to transform themselves into whatever they desire. Once they have the tools, they are free to rewrite themselves, to be reborn, to make themselves anew. Such sentiments are reminiscent of the famous opening lines of the late 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man, in which the protagonist, Steve Austin, is severely injured in a plane crash while working as a test pilot: 'We have the technology. We can rebuild him.' Steve Austin the cyborg was rebuilt better and stronger than he had ever been before. the same promise is contained in the self-improvement rhetoric of contemporary Western societies-through the application of the most recent self-care techniques, one's most intimate practices can be pulled apart and reconstructed to make us healthier, smarter, happier and wealthier.

Only a small minority act fully on the call to make the pursuit of perfect health their central activity in life. For the seminar junkies, the compulsive body-builders, obsessive dieters and the health-food puritans, the ethic of self-improvement has become an obsession. However, everyone is subject to the effects of the proliferation of health advice. No matter whether the mass of self-care advice is acted upon or not, its cumulative effect is to overlay and reconstitute more deeply culturally embedded understandings about the responsibility that the conscious actor bears for their own health. We cannot escape being told that we are free, that we are responsible for our health and that we are therefore potentially to blame for our lack of well-being. the belief that we are autonomously responsible for our own health is both more widespread and deeper than ever before. To use rather unfashionable terminology, it is a dominant ideology of our times.

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