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Regulating bodies: essays in medical sociology

Опубликовано на портале: 28-11-2006
London: Routledge, 2000
Bryan Turner's book provides a framework for the development of a new sub-field, namely the development of the body. Through an examination of various philosophical traditions (phenomenology, philosophical anthropology, structuralism and postmodernism) the book shows how the human body has been ignored or neglected by mainstream social theory. In attempting to integrate these different traditions, Professor Turner demonstrates how the absent body has impoverished, not only the sociology of health and illness but also the very foundations of sociology itself. There are three major aspects to this argument. Firstly, it is impossible to develop an adequate theory of social action without a conception of the embodied social agent. Secondly the idea of embodiment offers a fundamental critique of the positivistic side of the medical model of illness, and thus offers a new theoretical basis for medical sociology. Thirdly following the work of Michel Foucault, Turner demonstrates that medical practice functions as a moral discourse, which produces a regulation of the body. In providing a general account of the problem of the body in modern society, this study attempts to solve many of the existing epistemological and theoretical difficulties in social theories of the body. Turner has provided a major synthesis of his earlier work on the sociology of the body, established the idea of embodiment as fundamental to the sociology of health and illness, and pointed the way forward to new areas of cultural analysis.


Author’s preface: towards the somatic society


Part I Discovering bodies

1 The body question: recent developments in social theory

2 The absent body in structuration theory

3 Reflections on the epistemology of the hand

Part II Medical sociology

4 The interdisciplinary curriculum: from social medicine to postmodernism

5 The body and medical sociology

Part III Regimes of regulation

6 The government of the body: medical regimens and the rationalization of diet

7 The anatomy lesson: a note on the Merton thesis

8 The talking disease: Hilda Bruch and anorexia nervosa


Theory and epistemology of the body: an interview with Richard Fardon

Appendix: Bryan S. Turner’s publications on the sociology of the body and medical sociology

Name index

Subject index


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