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The Body: A Very Short Introduction

Popular Science
Provides a compelling introduction to the importance of the body for contemporary identities and social relationships
Demonstrates how social relations, technological advances, and cultural representations shape the body and affect our understanding of body matters
Explores how body matters lie at the heart of contemporary cultural and religious conflicts
Examines how the body has become central to our self-identities, while also becoming subjected increasingly to economic forces

Series: Very Short Introduction Series

By: Chris Shilling (Author)

144 pages, 10 b/w photos

Oxford University Press

Paperback | Jan 2016 | #223792 | ISBN-13: 9780198739036
Availability: Usually dispatched within 48 hours
NHBS Price: £7.99 $10/€10 approx

About this book

The human body is thought of conventionally as a biological entity, with its longevity, morbidity, size and even appearance determined by genetic factors immune to the influence of society or culture. Since the mid-1980s, however, there has been a rising awareness of how our bodies, and our perception of them, are influenced by the social, cultural and material contexts in which humans live.

Drawing on studies of sex and gender, education, governance, the economy, and religion, Chris Shilling demonstrates how our physical being allows us to affect the material and virtual world around us, yet also enables governments to shape and direct our thoughts and actions. Revealing how social relationships, cultural images, and technological and medical advances shape our perceptions and awareness, he exposes the limitations of traditional Western traditions of thought that elevate the mind over the body as that which defines us as human. Dealing with issues ranging from cosmetic and transplant surgery, the performance of gendered identities, the commodification of bodies and body parts, and the violent consequences of competing conceptions of the body as sacred, Shilling provides a compelling account of why body matters present contemporary societies with a series of urgent and inescapable challenges.


Contents

Introduction

1: Natural bodies or social bodies?
2: Sexed bodies
3: Educating bodies
4: Governing bodies.
5: Bodies as commodities
6: Bodies matter! Dilemmas and controversies

References and Further Reading
Index


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Biography

Chris Shilling is Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent. He has been a key figure in the development of 'body studies', and has written extensively on embodiment, body pedagogics, and sociological theory, in areas ranging from religion, to sport, education, gender, and work. His most recent books are Sociology of the Sacred: Religion, Embodiment and Social Change with Philip A. Mellor (Sage Publishing Ltd, 2014), and The Body and Social Theory, 3rd Edition (Sage Publishing Ltd, 2012).

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