School of
Social Sciences
___Introduction to Sociology
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Identity And Embodiment

 

"The body is both the cause and effect of communication, in other words, of society itself"
(Blackwell Dictionary of 20th Century Social Thought: 48, 1993)

"It is not that the beautiful totality of the individual is amputated, repressed, altered by our social order, it is rather that the individual is carefully fabricated within it, according to a whole technique of forces and bodies." (Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 1977)


The body has always been a bit of a problem for sociology, something of an embarassment in fact. For starters, the body is associated with a lot of pleasure and self-indulgence. This offends the positivist mindset of most sociologists. Marxists regard pleasure in general and bodily pleasure in particular with suspicion, as probably a mask for bourgeois ideology distracting workers from recognising their true interests in the class struggle. Functionalists see the body as merely an expression of the mind. Most sociologists would much prefer to leave questions of the body to the biological sciences. Thankfully there are a number of social theorists who won't let them do that, Michel Foucault and Bryan Turner being the most notable.



More Material On This Website  External Link
Two excellent essays on Michel Foucault by Jane Louis-Wood:  
Foucault For Beginners Foucault Pages (External Link)
Madness And Civilisation  


These pages were originally written by: Angus Bancroft and Sioned Rogers
Redesigned and updated by: Pierre Stapley - 2010