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The Body and Health. Lecture 5. Overview The impulse for this specialism emanates partly from the work of Michel Foucault. The impulse for this specialism.

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Presentation on theme: "The Body and Health. Lecture 5. Overview The impulse for this specialism emanates partly from the work of Michel Foucault. The impulse for this specialism."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Body and Health. Lecture 5

2 Overview The impulse for this specialism emanates partly from the work of Michel Foucault. The impulse for this specialism emanates partly from the work of Michel Foucault. body as the primary focus and locus of power, body as the primary focus and locus of power, This thesis is made explicit in 'Discipline & Punish' This thesis is made explicit in 'Discipline & Punish' Lupton aligns Erving Goffman, Mary Douglas and Foucault with social constructionist approach. Lupton aligns Erving Goffman, Mary Douglas and Foucault with social constructionist approach. Social Constructionism emphasizes the ways in which our social meanings, categories, values attitudes and behaviours are socially produced rather than naturally given Social Constructionism emphasizes the ways in which our social meanings, categories, values attitudes and behaviours are socially produced rather than naturally given health and illness are not just biological or physiological phenomena they are social categories too. health and illness are not just biological or physiological phenomena they are social categories too.

3 Four Main Strands of Social Constructionism 1. A critical stance towards taken for granted knowledge and concepts 2. Historical and Cultural Specificity. 3. Knowledge is sustained by social processes. 4. Knowledge and social action go together.

4 Social Constructionism Berger and Luckman our sense of what is real is not out there to be discovered it is entirely socially constructed. Berger and Luckman our sense of what is real is not out there to be discovered it is entirely socially constructed. provides a powerful critique of Durkheimian notions of 'Social Facts' provides a powerful critique of Durkheimian notions of 'Social Facts' problematic in relation to embodiment and health problematic in relation to embodiment and health concern with the way that social processes construct and mould the body concern with the way that social processes construct and mould the body body is first and foremost a social thing. body is first and foremost a social thing.

5 Madness and Civilization 'mad' a social construction of modernity. 'mad' a social construction of modernity. the category of 'madness' had to be invented and invested with a 'regime of truth' the category of 'madness' had to be invented and invested with a 'regime of truth' traits of madness had to be invented or identified by professionals with knowledge- within a discourse of Madness. traits of madness had to be invented or identified by professionals with knowledge- within a discourse of Madness. Mad individuals inscribed with these traits, in the context of this discourse of Madness Mad individuals inscribed with these traits, in the context of this discourse of Madness Madness not a biological category it is a social one. Madness not a biological category it is a social one. bodies, a product of social and discursive processes of inscription. bodies, a product of social and discursive processes of inscription. Foucault appeared to lose sight of human agency. Foucault appeared to lose sight of human agency. Sought to remedy this with notions of resistance. Sought to remedy this with notions of resistance. technologies of self technologies of self

6 Madness and Civilization 2 real human bodies and not just constructed subject- positions can resist these disciplining discourses. real human bodies and not just constructed subject- positions can resist these disciplining discourses. Discourses of modernity, such as the bio-medical model of medicine, seek to create docile bodies. Discourses of modernity, such as the bio-medical model of medicine, seek to create docile bodies. bodies disciplined by discourses into efficient and productive materials for the reproductive (women) and productive (men) needs of capital and the bio-political state. bodies disciplined by discourses into efficient and productive materials for the reproductive (women) and productive (men) needs of capital and the bio-political state. The discourses of Madness and sexuality regulate our social behaviour by defining what is normal and what is not. The discourses of Madness and sexuality regulate our social behaviour by defining what is normal and what is not.

7 The Politics of Biological Reductionism Sociologists on the left of the political spectrum. Sociologists on the left of the political spectrum. critical approach to social structures and institutions critical approach to social structures and institutions Some form of biologism have a different political emphasis. Some form of biologism have a different political emphasis. Difference and inequality naturalised. Difference and inequality naturalised. Problems with Sociobiology Problems with Sociobiology The Politics of Evolutionary Theory The Politics of Evolutionary Theory Herbert Spencers application of evolutionary theory to explain social change and social inequality. Herbert Spencers application of evolutionary theory to explain social change and social inequality.

8 The Inscribed Body scarification and marking of bodies. scarification and marking of bodies. Scarification has deep symbolic significance. Scarification has deep symbolic significance. It says something about who we are and our social roles. It says something about who we are and our social roles. Affects inside and 'outside' of bodies Affects inside and 'outside' of bodies process of socialisation and enculturation a process of scarification process of socialisation and enculturation a process of scarification we are coded or inscribed with culture by social processes. we are coded or inscribed with culture by social processes. a central part of medical intervention now concerns perfecting the body a central part of medical intervention now concerns perfecting the body Body building; cosmetic surgery etc Body building; cosmetic surgery etc Bob Connell (1983) 'transcendence' Bob Connell (1983) 'transcendence'

9 Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder body projects and body modification as a means of resisting all the stuff that Foucault was talking about. body projects and body modification as a means of resisting all the stuff that Foucault was talking about. Samuel Fussell (1991)– quest to build the utopian body. Samuel Fussell (1991)– quest to build the utopian body. Body building as a postmodern art form Body building as a postmodern art form exagerrated form of hypermasculinity. exagerrated form of hypermasculinity. manipulations of the biological body manipulations of the biological body commitments to ideals of youth and beauty commitments to ideals of youth and beauty body is regarded as malleable substance body is regarded as malleable substance

10 The Anorexic Body – postmodern illness? Susie Orbach Anorexia describes the condition of women who 'have become scared of food and what it can do to them' (1993). Susie Orbach Anorexia describes the condition of women who 'have become scared of food and what it can do to them' (1993). Szasz (1974) 'Addiction, obesity and anorexia are political problems, not psychiatric; each condenses and expresses a contest between the individual and some other person or persons in his environment' (1974). Szasz (1974) 'Addiction, obesity and anorexia are political problems, not psychiatric; each condenses and expresses a contest between the individual and some other person or persons in his environment' (1974). starvation as a means for acquiring greater autonomy and selfhood. starvation as a means for acquiring greater autonomy and selfhood. Problematic view - non-western countries hardly any cases of anorexia or bulimia. Problematic view - non-western countries hardly any cases of anorexia or bulimia. diseases of affluent, western societies. diseases of affluent, western societies. Susan Bordo a link between eating disorders and phobias about fat and the tension in advanced consumer capitalism between the productive work ethic and the incitement to consume. Susan Bordo a link between eating disorders and phobias about fat and the tension in advanced consumer capitalism between the productive work ethic and the incitement to consume.

11 Control or subjection? Passive or active body? Passive or active body? Self starvation at one point represents control Self starvation at one point represents control symbolically signifyies a well managed self symbolically signifyies a well managed self at it's limits it purveys a message of a self out of control. at it's limits it purveys a message of a self out of control. discourse of bodily perfection structures all of our identities to some discourse of bodily perfection structures all of our identities to some impact on how we see ourselves. impact on how we see ourselves. greater need to gain control over our bodies greater need to gain control over our bodies

12 Faulty Bodies. Anorexia; body building and cosmetic surgery all imply some degree of choice with regard to bodily performances. Anorexia; body building and cosmetic surgery all imply some degree of choice with regard to bodily performances. bodies are produced by the individual, bodies are produced by the individual, What about the experience of being a body? a diseased body or a healthy body or a body in pain or a disabled body or a sexual body. What about the experience of being a body? a diseased body or a healthy body or a body in pain or a disabled body or a sexual body. experience of embodiment most distinct when we undergo some sort of sense of its deviation from the norm, experience of embodiment most distinct when we undergo some sort of sense of its deviation from the norm, emphasis on bodily perfection in contemporary culture emphasis on bodily perfection in contemporary culture bodies that do not confirm to this highly idealized norm are considered to be faulty bodies, bodies that become hidden or excluded bodies that do not confirm to this highly idealized norm are considered to be faulty bodies, bodies that become hidden or excluded

13 Disability and the Body Susan Wendell, Judith Butler have noted that disabled women in Western societies face particular difficulties because bodily perfection is so often equated with health and success. Susan Wendell, Judith Butler have noted that disabled women in Western societies face particular difficulties because bodily perfection is so often equated with health and success. faulty bodies are ascribed or inscribed with difference both externally and internally. faulty bodies are ascribed or inscribed with difference both externally and internally. As a result they are often isolated and excluded. As a result they are often isolated and excluded. Jenny Morris mainstream society has very low expectations of disabled men and women. Jenny Morris mainstream society has very low expectations of disabled men and women. pressure on disabled people to conform pressure on disabled people to conform individuals with disabilities may try to compensate for their disabilities by striving to look as close to the non-disabled "norm" as possible. individuals with disabilities may try to compensate for their disabilities by striving to look as close to the non-disabled "norm" as possible.

14 Medicalising Disability Mike Oliver - Parsons Sick Role Theory to explain the way that disabled people are expected to cultivate dependency and vulnerability. Mike Oliver - Parsons Sick Role Theory to explain the way that disabled people are expected to cultivate dependency and vulnerability. disabled people perceived in a state of perpetual illness, disabled people perceived in a state of perpetual illness, expected to assume the position of patient, a perpetual state of accepted dependency upon medical experts. expected to assume the position of patient, a perpetual state of accepted dependency upon medical experts. the medical model is significant: by adopting particular conceptions of normality, people with disabilities are defined according to the criteria they do not meet, rather than those they do. They are defined in relation to what they are not. the medical model is significant: by adopting particular conceptions of normality, people with disabilities are defined according to the criteria they do not meet, rather than those they do. They are defined in relation to what they are not. Oliver "In short, they are the product of the `psychological imagination' constructed upon a bedrock of `non-disabled' assumptions of what it is like to experience impairment. The realisation of impairment is presumed to involve some form of loss or `personal tragedy'. Oliver "In short, they are the product of the `psychological imagination' constructed upon a bedrock of `non-disabled' assumptions of what it is like to experience impairment. The realisation of impairment is presumed to involve some form of loss or `personal tragedy'. disabled people are perceived as being free from social obligations and responsibilities. disabled people are perceived as being free from social obligations and responsibilities.

15 Problems with social constructionism Disability and Anorexia clearly indicate the intersection between the material and the cultural body Disability and Anorexia clearly indicate the intersection between the material and the cultural body lived experience of the material body structured by biological and social factors. lived experience of the material body structured by biological and social factors. To suggest that the body is entirely socially constructed implies that we can escape from our bodies if we just change cultural attitudes To suggest that the body is entirely socially constructed implies that we can escape from our bodies if we just change cultural attitudes Concepts we use to describe our experiences of embodiment social and cultural but does that mean the body is socially constructed? Concepts we use to describe our experiences of embodiment social and cultural but does that mean the body is socially constructed?


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