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Sociology: Research


Paper Details

Author: Alexandra Howson

Title: The Female Body and Health Surveillance: Cervical Screening and the Social Production of Risk

Year: 1995

ISBN: 1-900522-05-5

Risk is increasingly a theoretical and substantive issue within sociology. It has been generally argued that the rationalising tendencies of modernity have produced both problems, which we understand as risks, and the means to assess and calculate them. This general direction moves in parallel to arguments about risk which seek to demonstrate its boundaries; the ways in which risk is constructed; the social meaning of risk; and the deployment of risk discourses. This paper reviews empirical data drawn from a study on women's experiences of cervical screening. The paper argues that participation, and changing perceptions of the individual body, in forms of health surveillance such as cervical screening, produce risk as embodied, or lived experience. The argument carries implications for debates about the relationship between surveillance as a new form of social regulation in modernity, and the identities which such surveillance engenders.

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