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Author: Hugo Gorringe, Gillian Haddow, Irene Rafanell, Emmanuelle Tulle and Chris Yuill

Title: The Transformative Capacity of Embodiment

Year: 2007

ISBN: 1-900522-08-X

Recently, literature around the issue of embodiment has burgeoned. Too often, however, the concept is underdeveloped and insufficiently sociological. Furthermore, there has been a tendency for the sociology of the body to become a specialist sub-field whose insights are neglected in ‘mainstream’ sociology. In this paper we interrogate the concept of embodiment focussing on the ‘transformative capacity’ of embodied action: how various social agents use their bodies to resist and, crucially, to transform power structures by subverting the physical and symbolic bodily order that such structures create and require in order to exist. Our concept of the ‘Transformative Capacity of Embodiment’ (TCE) emerges from five separate pieces of empirical research, carried out independently, which exhibit commonality in charting the complex interplay between the processes of embodiment and the co-constitution of social structures. Taken together our work helps reappraise the boundary between nature and the social, leading to the destabilisation of major discourses, such as the medical discourse, gender/sex identity formation, the established conventional connections between age and sport and, central to our argument, how the body is integral to social reproduction and resistance.

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