For example, the journal Body & Society was launched in March 1995 by Sage Publications in association with the School of Human Studies at the University of Teeside. In the introduction, editors Mike Featherstone and Bryan S. Turner write that:
This new journal on the Body & Society has
been established to cater for the expanding interest in the body as a topic
of teaching and research within the academy; something which in turn can
be related to the perceived importance of the body in popular culture,
consumer culture and everyday life. The body as an overt and thematized
issue now appears to be central to a good deal of contemporary thought
and practice in medical science, fashion, women's politics, technology
and private life, health and travel, fantasy and literature. It is difficult
to avoid the ubiquity and presence of the body as a sign and symbol of
social and political processes.
. . . Research on the body seems to be concentrated in a number of areas.
First, there is a general interest in the symbolic significance of the body, the use of the body as representation and the importance of the body in metaphorical discourse.
. . . A second area, which has been relatively undeveloped, is the analysis of the active role of the body in social life.
. . . A third major area of development has been in the analysis of the differences between gender and sex.
. . . A fourth area is the relation between the body and technology.
. . . The fifth arena within which the sociology of the body is highly developed is in the study of health and illness, medical categories of disease, and the organization of health care.
The sixth area in which considerable attention has been given to the body is the sociology of sport.
(Body & Society, Vol 1, No 1, pp1-5)
The development of Disability Studies - for example, the University of Greenwich has a Professor of Disability Studies, Mike Oliver - and the rise of the disability rights movement are of course missing from this list.
Featherstone and Turner go on to state that:
Our new journal will, therefore, focus on the body via
a number of debates arising from feminist and gay studies as well as postmodernism
and theorization of everyday life. At the same time, it is difficult to
believe that these contemporary developments render classical social theory
wholly irrelevant . . . In developing the analysis of the body and society,
we would therefore like to draw on the legacy of Nietzsche, Heidegger,
Husserl, Freud, Mauss, Schilder and Bataille.
(Body & Society, Vol 1, No 1, p2)
Missing from this list, are, of course the debates arising from Disability Studies and the disability rights movement.
Featherstone and Turner add that:
While we can no longer lament the absence of the body
in social and cultural studies, there are a number of major theoretical
problems which require resolution.
. . . 1) What is the body and what is embodiment?
. . . 2) We need to develop an embodied notion of the human being as a social agent and of the functions of the body in social space.
. . . 3) We need a sociology of the body which will do more than give an account of the representational or cultural notion of the body; that is, we need to understand how embodiment is fundamental to the processes of repricocity and exchange between humans.
. . . 4) We also need a strong sense of the history of the body.
(Body & Society, Vol 1, No 1, pp6-8)
Disability Studies and the debates arising from the disability rights movement could contribute to the discussion of all of these questions. However, Featherstone and Turner state that:
The range of substantive topics which we would like to
see covered [in future issues of the journal] includes: the history of
the body; art history and the body; medical history and the body; gender
and sexuality; ethnicity; fashion; gender ambiguities; feminist theory;
the body and the performative arts; collective bodies; the body and technology;
the body and emotions; the body and religion; consumerism; the body and
(Body & Society, Vol 1 No 1, p9)
Disability is only noticeable by its absence. Likewise, in Vol 1, No 2, the opening article by Alan Radley states that:
The topic of "the body" is now firmly on the agenda for debate in social theory; this is reflected in cultural studies, anthropology, history and social psychology, as well as in sociology. It is particularly true of specialist fields such as feminist studies and medical sociology which, in studying the bodies of women and of patients, often cut across the disciplines mentioned above. Work on reproduction, consumption, medical practice, sexual relations, sport, diet, art, communication and robotics each involve some consideration of embodiment. (p3)
Unsurprisingly, only one contributor made reference to disability in the journal's first volume. This did not include any reference to Disability Studies or the debates arising from the disability rights movement.
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