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SOCI 1002
Christian Carron

Sociology of the Body Society and the body (influence of society on how we see our bodies) - Like anything else about us, the circumstance of living in society makes an enormous amount of difference to our bodies - Even a lot about the size and form of our bodies and is determined by genes – by nature, not culture – societal pressures pushes to turn our bodies in a condition that is recognized as being right and proper - Bodies are not just biologically but also socially defined - Enhancing one's body image to conform to prevailing norms has became especially important in urban, industrial societies because: • Socially, urbanized societies present people with many more opportunities to meet and interact with strangers and have created desire in people to transform their bodies • Technologically, we have created technologies to transform the body • Economically, industrialized societies enable people to afford technologies that transform their bodies Embodied selves- technologies of self - Michel Foucault became interested in what he called technologies of the self and how our relation to ourselves, and so our bodies, have changed over time - Perfection vs. Satisfaction • Sometimes can overlap, but often quite different • Drive towards perfection can be dangerous - Health vs. Fitness - Healthy= being in a state of balance - Fitness: (can overlap) doesn’t have the same idea of balance- drive to fitness like that to perfection - Everything we do to our bodies to shape and mould them • To be the ideal type - The kind of society in which we live affects whether we are at peace with our body - We may view bodies as a task- something to work on which requires daily care and attention - Once working on our body has been formed into a duty, society sets the standards for a desirable and approved shape • These standards change, shift, and move • Not the same across all society. Standards are tied to particular societies - The body is something to work on Body as subject - Body as site of anxiety • We watch closely what we eat, drink and breathe • Any food or air may do harm to the body or prove downright poisonous. It is not surprising, therefore, that we find a whole industry and set of marketing techniques that are part of the discourses of the body: for example, foods that are ‘good’for us and others that are ‘bad’for us - Body as a site of pleasure • Body is a site not only for anxiety, but also of pleasure • We find an industry that prompts us to seek sensation: films, soaps, glossy magazines, commercials, books and shop windows tempt us • For example, eating and drinking are social occasions that may induce pleasurable sensations and exciting experiences Body as object - The body and desire • The body is not only the site and tool of desire, but also an object of desire. It is our body that other people see first • The body is the site of ourselves that is always on display and people tend to judge by what they can see • Even if the body is but a wrapping of what we take to be our ‘inner lives’, it is the attractiveness, beauty, elegance and charm of the wrapping that will entice others at first. It forms first impressions - Discrimination based on the body • Failure to comply with standards can induce feelings of shame • Those not meeting such requirements may find themselves subjected to routine discrimination: for example, prejudicial attitudes towards disabled people as manifest in the very design of buildings • However bizarre it may seem at first glance, our bodies are the objects of social conditioning Social construction of disability- Shameless (2006) - The Social Construction of Disability • Disability: Is a physical or mental problem that keeps people from performing within range of “normal” human activity • Impaired people:Are considered deficient in physical or mental capacity • Given determination of “normal” and “deficient” is subjective, disability is a social construction - Rehabilitation- historical perspective • Rehabilitation involves:  Curing disabilities to extent possible through medical and technological intervention  Trying to improve lives of people with disabilities by means of care, training, and education  Integrating people with disabilities into society • Historically, some scientists and reformers sought rehabilitation of people with disabilities • Others sought to eliminate disabi
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