Sociology of the body

Sociology of the body

The sociology of the body is a new area in sociology and one where much work remains to be done. In this journal, the focus is on how something as seemingly individual and given as your own body is influenced by the power of the state and the attitudes and pressures in the wider society. Abstract The state has the potential to control the population and individuals in many ways like population, size, where people live and appearance. Attitudes towards the body have changed over time and cultures, and the body is increasingly taking center stage in society.

Different sociological perspectives re used to evaluate on the ideas of the body and how they each support and challenge each other. Key words Population Individual Bodies Illness and health Diet and fitness Medications Cosmetic surgery Eating disorders Functionalist, Marxist and Feminist Regulating populations The state controls the population of the nation through observation of birth, death and marriage rates in censuses and surveys, the compilation of official statistics by government agencies, understanding of public health and housing schemes and the control over migration.

As Faculty put it: “At the earth of this economic and political problem of population was sex:it was necessary to analyses the birth rate, the age of marriage, the legitimate and illegitimate of births, the precocity and frequency of sexual relations, the ways of making them fertile or sterile, the effects of unmarried life or of contraceptive practices. “(Faculty 1976:25-6). In China, the population is controlled by having the One Child Policy in each family. The state rewards families that observe the policy by giving higher wages, better schooling and employment and obtaining government assistance and loans.

However for implies who violet the One Child Policy there is sanctions: fines, employment termination, and difficulty in obtaining governmental assistance. The state has the power to regulate the individual bodies of its members by providing guidelines that needs abiding in order to avoid legal prosecution. Every country has different reasons in putting up their laws in which they believe that is for the safety of its members. In France, headscarves are banned for all female Muslims in order to avoid terrorism as they assumed.

Under the French Law, any women, French or foreign walking in the street in France rearing a face-concealing veil such as Burk can be stopped by the police and given a fine. In the I-J, the state controls individual bodies by banning female circumcision. It was first outlawed in Britain in 1985 but is still common in some parts of Africa. It is stated in the Safeguarding Children at Risk of Abuse through Female Genital Mutilation Policy Section 2. 1. 3. Pig. 9,” FIG is an offence which extends to acts performed outside of the KICK and to any person who advises helps or forces a girl to inflict FIG on herself.

Any person found guilty of an offence under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 003 will be liable to a fine or imprisonment up to 14 years, or both. ” The advantage of declining family size will lead to smaller families which enable a better diet and health care for children. Women’s health also improved as they spent less time child-bearing and opportunity to find employments which in return help the economy. However, some people might find this as a violation of their human rights as individuals by the states, like the banning of headscarves in France which some faith like Muslims would find it disrespectful.

Also the one child policy in China will result in ageing problems, here there will be not enough careers to look after the elderly and there is gender imbalance. Modern emphasis upon illness and a healthy body Nowadays, illness and a healthy body are seen as being both important and that is why the National Health Service (NASH) was formed. People have the benefits to receive health care either for illness that require treatment or for routine check-ups to maintain a healthy body. The advantages of the NASH, everyone benefits from the health of the whole community.

There is no financial barriers care provided on the basis of medical need. Preventive and elate education projects can run successfully and there are co-ordinate and fast emergency services provided to the public. The disadvantages, there is high taxation required to fund the demand. People pay for a service they may never use. Rationing by long waits for elective procedures and sometimes people use the service wastefully when they do not have to pay and it is a bureaucratic and impersonal system.

Contemporary changes in the population with respect to diet and fitness Society is now far more concerned with the importance of having a healthy body and people are more aware of owe this is linked to diet, exercise, alcohol and smoking. For example some people only purchase organic foods, because they believe to be healthier. People are expected to be slim. Diet programmed and exercise regimes generate millions of pounds and are endorsed by celebrities and organizations such as Westchester, which exist to help people-particular women reach their perfect size.

However, thinness has not always been seen as desirable mainly because it was associated with lack of food and poverty, as it still is in many developing countries. A glance at painting in an art gallery wows that women in the past were often far more “rounded “than most women today. The idea of “slimness “as the ideal female shape originated among the middle class in the late 19th century, and it has taken hold ever since. Medications of the reproductive body In today’s society, more areas of social life are subject to the “medical gaze”.

The doctors have become the arbiters of who will receive a treatment e. G. Abortion and VIE (in vitro fertilization) programmed which may not be available to the unmarried or those of a certain age. Childbirth and pregnancy re subject to routine medical interventions in what is usually a natural process in the past. Ageing is becoming medicals as family and community structures are no longer in place to take the responsibility. Law and religion have replaces by psychiatry e. G. In dealing with alcoholism. Sexuality is controlled by labeling sexual practices as disorders.

Attention deficit disorder in children is treated by drugs. Idle or nervous women were said to be suffering hysteria, which means literally a “disorder of the uterus”. Orthodox medicine has the power to label other systems as “alternative” and new cosmologies have expanded the influence of medicine over life and death issues. The benefits of medications, it offers a treatment rather than a punitive solution. People are living longer and childbirth has become much safer for mother and baby. Also, doctors are in most favorable position to make rational allocation decisions.

The criticisms, there is a sign of the increasing surveillance in society. It suggests a spurious scientific. Alt undermines the power of ordinary people to make their own decisions. Clinical iatrogenic from medical interventions can be damaging or necessary, e. G. Thalidomide babies. Social iatrogenic from creation of an artificial dependency on the medical profession. Structural iatrogenic, people’s autonomy is undermined when they lack the disability to care for themselves and others or to withstand pain. Also, medical treatments may be coercive without the democratic process.

Cultural images of femininity with respect to cosmetic surgery The key writer in this area is Naomi Wolf, who wrote a book called ‘The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are used against Women (1991). Wolf a radical feminist, argues that as women have comes more successful in all aspects Of society, the “myth” Of female beauty is used to control them and “put them in their place”. Women are bombarded by the media with images of the “perfect”woman. Society judge’s women, and women judge themselves, against this standard.

Wolf calls this “beauty pornography’. By this she means that the media portrayal of women is a deception, which causes women to spend too much time and money worrying about beauty: if you do not look as skinny as the fashion models, starve or exercise; if your breasts are too small, get implants! Wolf says that omen should be judges and should judge themselves in ways which focus on other qualities and values, not just ones to do with a socially constructed beauty myth. The most dangerous aspect though for Wolf is in the realm of women’s health.

Eating disorders The current strong social focus on body image is thought to be linked with the increasing prevalence Of eating disorders. Anorexia, is the most commonly known disorder, is generally (although not always) a Western disease. In the developing world, when people starve to death, it is through lack of food. Contrastingly, people in the Western world with eating disorders starve to death despite there being plenty of food available. Anorexia is an illness influenced by social factors and pressures, in particular the media. Hollywood movie stars and pop stars are, on the whole, extremely slim.

It is no surprise that some 20 per cent of women in Britain experience eating disorders at some point of their lives as they try to emulate the rich and famous. Research shows that over 60 per cent of girls aged 13 have already begun to diet, showing an unhealthy interest in food and their bodies at a very young age. Most will not go on to develop eating disorders, but some will, and the embers are increasing. Bulimia, binging on food followed by self-induced vomiting, has also become increase common among young women. Anorexia and bulimia are often to be found in the same individual.

Obesity is also an eating disorder which occurs when someone is extremely overweight. It is a major health problem which could lead to heart problems and cancers which adds stress to the body’s organs and muscles. Also, it causes social and emotional problems. Causes of eating disorders Social Sociologists are obviously most concerned with this explanation, which souses on the role of the mass media in constantly equating thinness with attractiveness. Much of the media present the ideal woman as ultra-thin, and women respond by trying to copy that vision.

Naomi Wolf, a radical feminist calls this “the beauty myth”. Biological Some studies have suggested that eating disorders are genetically based. Others have looked at the role of serotonin, a brain chemical, which may make the individual withdraw socially and have less desire for food. Psychological Some research has linked various personality traits suck as perfectionism, evasiveness and low self-esteem, to eating disorders. Other links have been to overprotective parents, traumatic life events and physical or sexual abuse. Research has shown that eating disorders are not solely a Western problem.

Bennett, Sharpe; Freeman et al (2004) investigated whether anorexic existed in a culture where is it no perceived as socially desirable to be thin. They screened 668 female secondary school students in Ghana for their body mass index(BPML)and found that 10 has low weight due to self-starvation. Their reasons for this included religious fasting and enjoying the self-control and menial of hunger. The area of eating disorders and body image is a complex one, and to focus on blaming one factor alone, such as the media, may not be helpful.

It should also be noted that 10 per cent of all those suffering from eating disorders are men, and the number is increasing as men,too,become increasingly concerned with appearance. Sociological theories on the body Functionalist serves the interest Of the society as a whole. They achieved it by protecting the public from unscrupulous practice and acting as a gate keeper to the sick role, which if over used could become dysfunctional. Functionalist gain its source of power through the legitimate authority, which is attained on merit because doctors have scarce knowledge and skills which are crucial for a healthy population.

Their role in social control by limiting abuse of the sick role by acting as a gate keeper and legitimates absence from work for individuals. However, not everyone who becomes sick adopts a sick role. Some go to work when they are ill, perhaps because they cannot afford to take time off. In addition, the decision to go to a doctor is linked to class, gender, age and ethnicity. Parsons argued that individuals are not blamed for their illness. However, this is not always the case. AIDS sufferers, for example, are often blamed for getting ill.

Likewise, people suffering from mental illness are also often stigmatize. Not everyone seeks conventional medical help when they are ill. People today will increasingly challenge the authority of the doctor; get other opinions, self-diagnose and self-treat, sometimes using alternative therapies. The sick role only works when the illness is temporary and curable. For people with a long-term illness or disability, it may be more important for them to behave as “normally “as possible and not to appear sick. Marxist serves the interests of the body through the capitalist.

They achieved it by maintaining a healthy workforce. It disguise the true cause of ill-health I. E. Capitalism and support the profit-making of the drugs industry. Their source of power, as the servants of the ruling class they have delegated power which has been passed on through family connections. Also, doctors are becoming proletarians as they come under the control of managers. Their role of social control, they define illness as an inability to work, like in he Soviet Union, political opposition was defined as mental illness.

Also they make health an individual rather than a social problem. Feminist believe, that men’s interest are served on the Ideas of the body. This is archived through branding female healers as witches and the demotion of midwifery to an ancillary occupation. Feminists see that the medical practice is patriarchal and medical knowledge is gendered e. G. Anatomy texts do not represent the clitoris correctly. In social control, women dominated in subordinate roles on low paid or unpaid careers and drugs treatment of depression in women is eased on gender stereotypes.

Other key areas that concern feminism are the medications of pregnancy, childbirths and contraception. Although the contraception pill provides sexual freedom, it also has potentially harmful side-effects. Marxist feminists have made the link between capitalism and women’s health. Women’s health is big business. Huge profit can be made from things like weight-loss and anti-ageing products. Also,maintaining women’s health is important to ensure that they give birth to the next generation of workers and that they provide their husbands with the sexual ND emotional fulfillment necessary for them to keep working!

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