sociology of the body

Topics: Medicine, Health care, Health Pages: 7 (2584 words) Published: October 10, 2013
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 are used to evaluate on the ideas of the body and how they each support and challenge each other. Key words

Individual Bodies
Illness and health
Diet and fitness
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 Foucault put it: “At the heart of this economic and political problem of population was sex:it was necessary to analyse 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.”(Foucault 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 families 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 wearing a face-concealing veil such as burka can be stopped by the police and given a fine. In the UK, 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. pg. 9,” FGM is an offence which extends to acts performed outside of the UK and to any person who advises helps or forces a girl to inflict FGM on herself. Any person found guilty of an offence under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 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, where there will be not enough carers 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 (NHS) was formed. People have the benefits to receive health care either for illness that require...

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Thornes.N. (2008). AS Sociology. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Limited. p176-183,208-209.
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