By Emmanuelle Tulle (auth.)
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Additional info for Ageing, the Body and Social Change: Running in Later Life
Mead, Crossley identifies habituation or repetition as a key process in which self-consciousness and reflexivity develop. The point is that our selfhood is incorporated, that is embedded in our bodily sensations and bodily awareness, such that over time we come to know ourselves as both object and subject. Thus we get a sense of ourselves as both individual and generalised. Furthermore, our reflexivity gives us the opportunity to change ourselves. On the other hand, we are also caught up in a broader structural system, which provides us, among other things, with systems of classification in which to give meaning to “incorporated habitual schemes of perception and discourse’’ (Crossley 2001b: 153).
Furthermore, it is argued, biomedicine took on the status of discourse, to be understood as a system of meanings, practices and knowledge within which people act and know things and within which they are also known and constituted as subjects (Smart 1995). This formulation is useful – it allows Foucault, for instance in Madness and Civilisation (1972), to explore the role played by institutional structures and by individuals themselves in the medicalisation of their problems (in this case their madness) and the control of their behaviours, constituting themselves as ill (rather than mad).
To throw some light on these processes I now turn to the work of Pierre Bourdieu. Structure, agency and the body Bourdieu’s work was influenced by Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology, as he readily admits in Meditations pascaliennes (Bourdieu 1997). The attempt to rethink or transcend the mind–body dualism in his treatment of the body, and to render the structure and agency binary meaningful (Shilling 2003), is an example of this influence. However, as a sociologist, Bourdieu’s main objective was to incorporate the conceptual and philosophical frame handed down by phenomenology into a theory of structurally situated social action.
Ageing, the Body and Social Change: Running in Later Life by Emmanuelle Tulle (auth.)