• 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


One of the accusations levelled at certain perspectives within the field of body studies is that they engage in what Walter Schulz (1986) has referred to as ‘inverted Cartesianism’. Having reacted against the dominant philosophical tradition in the West – a tradition that reduced social actors to thinking minds and marginalised the importance of our sensuous bodily being – such perspectives have exposed themselves to the accusation of equating people entirely with their physical capacities. As Keith Tester (2004: 30) argues, ‘all the time we understand ourselves or others in terms of bodies alone, we are denying the humanity of both them and ourselves.’ Humans are not just flesh and blood objects, in other words, but are characterised by a wide range of social, ...

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