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Chapter 7

Sociology 2259 Chapter 7: Chapter 7

Course Code
SOC 2259
Lauren Barr

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Chapter 7 — Looking Deviant: Physical Appearance
Role of “Body Projects” and What Appearance Tells Us
voluntarily adopted forms of physical appearance include hairstyles, clothing, makeup, and
body art
involuntarily adopted forms of physical appearance include height, facial features shapes, and
visible disabilities
body projects refer to the ways that people adapt, change, or control characteristics of their
bodies and whether those characteristics are voluntary or involuntary
categories of body projects:
camouflaging (normative techniques of body manipulation that are learned in socialization
processes, e.g. makeup)
extending (attempts to overcome one’s physical limitations, e.g. contact lenses)
adapting (parts of the body are removed or repaired for aesthetic or medical reasons, e.g.
weight loss)
redesigning (reconstruct the body in lasting ways, e.g. plastic surgery)
objectively, appearance tells us about the characteristics of individuals involved in particular
body objects such as age, sex, socioeconomic status, family structure and functioning,
academic performance, personality, and psychopathology
subjectively, appearance tells us about the self, identity formation, and how people come to
understand themselves and attribute meaning to their physical appearance
from the subjective standpoint, appearance also tells us about the characteristics of the
broader society and culture
2 body projects are noteworthy;
redesigning projects (i.e. body art/modification) — because of their increased acceptance
they illustrate how perceptions of what is deviant and normal change over time
adapting projects — social typing of body size is very pervasive and affects many lives so
it’s an illustration of how the social construction of deviance and normality is an ongoing part
of everybody’s life
physical appearance is a master status meaning it’s a category we immediately place people
in upon first seeing them which subsequently defines who the person is
forms of physical appearance don’t generate negative societal reactions but rather the
meanings, stereotypes, and interpretations we attach to them
Different Kinds of Information About Body Modification
body modification is used as a collective representation of a subculture and the related
political/social ideologies
objectively, body modification tells us;
concerned with risk and motivation
presence of tattoos/piercings is associated with a broader range of risk (i.e. “at risk”)
about the psychology and behaviour of individuals however which characteristics the
individuals with body modification supposedly have is still up for debate
some people are motivated by aesthetic while others are motivated by the pursuit of an
social identity is the portion of the person’s identity that’s based on the groups to which the
person belongs so body modifications may signify affiliations
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