Body/Embodiment : Symbolic Interaction and the Sociology of the Body book cover
1st Edition

Symbolic Interaction and the Sociology of the Body

ISBN 9780367603946
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
312 Pages

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Book Description

The body and experiences of embodiment have generated a rich and diverse sociological literature. This volume articulates and illustrates one major approach to the sociology of the body: symbolic interactionism, an increasingly prevalent theoretical base of contemporary sociology derived from the pragmatism of writers such as John Dewey, William James, Charles Peirce, Charles Cooley and George Herbert Mead. The authors argue that, from an interactionist perspective, the body is much more than a tangible, corporeal object - it is a vessel of great significance to the individual and society. From this perspective, body, self and social interaction are intimately interrelated and constantly reconfigured. The collection constitutes a unique anthology of empirical research on the body, from health and illness to sexuality, from beauty and imagery to bodily performance in sport and art, and from mediated communication to plastic surgery. The contributions are informed by innovative interactionist theory, offering fresh insights into one of the fastest growing sub-disciplines of sociology and cultural studies.

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Dennis D. Waskul is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Minnesota State University Mankato, USA. His empirical and theoretical articles have been published in Symbolic Interaction, New Media & Society, The Information Society, and Sociological Spectrum. His research interests have been largely organized around the dynamics of embodiment, with special interest in liminal circumstances where fantasy, imagination, and reality coexist. Phillip Vannini is a Research Fellow in the School of Communication and Culture at Royal Roads University in Victoria, Canada. He has published theory and research dealing with semiotics and symbolic interactionism, and the semiotics of the body in the following journals: Journal of Popular Culture, CTheory, Cultural Studies - Critical Methodologies, Studies in Symbolic Interaction, and Symbolic Interaction.


’Body/Embodiment shows bodies doing things (getting sick, giving birth), people doing things to bodies (having surgery, injecting drugs, becoming fit or thin), people doing things with bodies (playing sports, singing opera), and in all these activities, people finding out who they are in the measure of their embodiment. These studies demonstrate the continuing relevance of Cooley, Goffman, and the symbolic interactionist view of life.’ Arthur W. Frank, University of Calgary, Canada 'The nineteen essays in the collection draw upon work by key figures within that perspective and the pragmatist tradition...Waskul and Vannini[s] text...draws attention to (both minor and more significant) variations of emphasis within a single theoretical perspective on the body...the essays in the collection are engaging and well provides a number of good examples of theoretically-informed empirical work, making it a resource that is altogether too rare within the body studies literature.' British Journal of Sociology