Sociology 2234E Lecture Notes - Skin Whitening, Deaf Culture, Identity Politics

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Published on 20 Apr 2013
School
Western University
Department
Sociology
Course
Sociology 2234E
Professor
Body as Text
Since the 1970s, there has been a sociological interest in the experience of being
“embodied”
Sociologists argue that the Body has meaning. The body is arguably the container of
the self. Therefore we often impute characteristics of a persons identity/personality
based upon their appearance.
The Interpretation by others of our bodies can be formative of our identities.
(Remember two concepts discussed earlier, the “Looking Glass Self” and “Self
Fulfilling Prophecy”)
Our Identities can in turn impact on how we present and represent our bodies. An
example of this would be tattoos. Tattoos often have meaning to the individual, and
are often symbolic of things important to the individual.
Identity politics of the body:
Much of the notion of “standpoint: is derived from embodied existence. Sex, Race,
Sexuality, Age, and Beauty.
Attendant issues of health and illness. Living in “Deviant” Bodies. That is living in a
body that does not operate in a way considered to be normal. For individuals who
have a disability or illness, others impute many characteristics to them. For example
there was a guest lecturer who discussed Deaf culture. Many people assume that
individuals who are deaf cannot do basic things like drive a car. (See attached video
“A few minutes in the life of a sign language interpreter” This video is meant to
humorously depict some of the misconceptions about students who are deaf)
Racialization of the Body
- Bodies are not neutral
- “White” is the dominant image against which others compare globally.
- Eurocentrism: The belief that all things originating in Europe (and then
perpetuating colonization throughout the globe) are superior to those of the
“colonized”. This applies to bodies and especially skin color and facial
features.
- Products such as skin whitening creams are very popular in Asia. According
to the professor there is also the use of umbrellas and hats in the sun to
ensure pale skin. (However, that is also a good way to prevent skin cancer)
Article : KAW “Medicalization of Racial Features: Asian American Women and
Cosmetic Surgery”
- Medical intervention can play a powerful role in racial identity and
negotiation
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Document Summary

Since the 1970s, there has been a sociological interest in the experience of being. The body is arguably the container of the self. Therefore we often impute characteristics of a persons identity/personality based upon their appearance. The interpretation by others of our bodies can be formative of our identities. (remember two concepts discussed earlier, the looking glass self and self. Our identities can in turn impact on how we present and represent our bodies. Tattoos often have meaning to the individual, and are often symbolic of things important to the individual. Much of the notion of standpoint: is derived from embodied existence. That is living in a body that does not operate in a way considered to be normal. For individuals who have a disability or illness, others impute many characteristics to them. For example there was a guest lecturer who discussed deaf culture.

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