The Fat Studies Reader

The Fat Studies Reader

The Fat Studies Reader

The Fat Studies Reader


"I think this is an outstanding book. The coverage is comprehensive, the lines of thought and exposition are clear, and the level of discussion is very high yet remarkably lively and accessible. It has an underlying intellectual seriousness and engagement which shines out through the individual chapters, and the author's unwillingness to make do with secondary analyses and received ideas gives it a strength and freshness of approach which is extremely welcome."
-- Professor William Outhwaite, University of Sussex

Social Theory in the Twentieth Century offers an easy-to-read but provocative account of the development of social theory. Patrick Baert covers a wide range of key figures and schools of thought, including Giddens, Foucault and Habermas. Written in a lively style and avoiding jargon, this book is aimed at students who wish to understand the main debates and dilemmas driving social theory.

Rather than providing a neutral summary of the different thinkers and theories, Baert challenges the conventional readings of social theory with new and original interpretations. In effect, he bridges the gap between philosophy and social theory by placing the theoretical views within wider historical traditions.

Social Theory in the Twentieth Century will undoubtedly become the standard introduction to social theory for students in sociology, politics, and anthropology.


Isn't it odd that people deeply divided on almost every important topic can so easily and seemingly organically agree on the above assertion? Isn't it similarly strange that countries significantly divergent in culture, attitudes, and approaches apparently share the fat-is-bad sentiment? In fact, according to the popular media, one of the few disagreements that exists is which country is hardest hit by the so called “obesity epidemic.”

Consider the following contradictory statements:

“Somewhere along the way, [Americans have] supersized ourselves into becoming
the fattest nation on earth” (MSNBC, 2003).

“Australia has become the fattest nation in the world, with more than 9 million
adults now rated as obese or overweight, according to an alarming new report”
(Stark, 2008).

“Canadian adults, both men and women, are the most obese in a survey of 63 na
tions that raises new health warnings for our country.” (Spears, 2007).

“Fat German citizens—the fattest in the European Union?” (Müller-Nothmann,

“Now heavyweight Brits are the fattest people in Europe” (Macrae, 2008).

Regardless of which country is actually the “fattest nation on earth,” the United States quickly declared a “war on fat” with the support of former U.S. surgeon general C. Everett Koop (Koop, 1997). The World Health Organization (O'Hara, 2006) data on “obesity” in adults indicate that the United States ranks twentieth, Australia thirtyfifth, and Canada thirty-seventh in global rates of “obesity.” Ranking ahead in weight are a number of nations in the Pacific (e.g., Fiji, Samoa) and the Middle East (e.g., Kuwait, Jordan). Countries that have the greatest number of “obese” children include a number of nations in eastern Europe (e.g., Albania, Armenia) and some African nations (e.g., Algeria, Lesotho; see O'Hara & Gregg, 2006.) . . .

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