• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Where are we at with studies of Body & Society? What are the key accomplishments in the field? This book provides the clearest and most comprehensive account of work in this area to date. Featuring a series of studies on sport, transgenderism, migration, illness, survival and belief, it illuminates the relationship between bodily change and action. Chris Shilling's book provides an unrivalled survey of theory and empirical research and explores the hitherto neglected tradition of American 'body studies'. Wide in scope, systematic and incisive the book represents a landmark addition to the field of studies in body and society.'In this new book, Chris Shilling once again seeks to redefine the parameters of the sociology of the body. Drawing on the ideas of pragmatism and the social research of the Chicago school, Shilling analyses many of the contemporary crises and transitions that challenge embodied habit and character, concluding that in many cases embodied individuals find the creative capacity for transcendence of their current social and material contexts. This is essential reading for all those in search of a sophisticated theoretical and methodological basis for the study of embodied action that resists a simplistic 'inverted Cartesianism' - Dr Ian Burkitt, University of Bradford


The manner in which people present their bodies to others has been viewed sociologically as key to the constitution of identities, cultures and societies. Thus, presentational concerns were central to Cooley's (1922 [1902]) notion of the ‘looking glass self’ (in which self-identity was formed and re-formed in the reflected gaze of others), Park and Burgess's (1969 [1921]: 341) contention that society ‘reduces to social interaction’, Mead's (1962 [1934]) ‘Me’ and ‘I’, and Goffman's (1963b) analysis of people's ‘actual’ and ‘virtual’ social identities. These and other writings established a close connection between the manner in which individuals presented themselves in public, prevalent forms of self-identity, and the ethos and operation of the social system. Conforming to the presentational norms of a social group generally signified ...

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