In the last three decades, the human body has gained increasing prominence in contemporary political debates, and it has become a central topic of modern social sciences and humanities. Modern technologies – such as organ transplants, stem-cell research, nanotechnology, cosmetic surgery and cryonics – have changed how we think about the body.

In this collection of thirty original essays by leading figures in the field, these issues are explored across a number of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives, including pragmatism, feminism, queer theory, post-modernism, post-humanism, cultural sociology, philosophy and anthropology. A wide range of case studies, which include cosmetics, diet, organ transplants, racial bodies, masculinity and sexuality, eating disorders, religion and the sacred body, and disability, are used to appraise these different perspectives.

In addition, this Handbook explores various epistemological approaches to the basic question: what is a body? It also offers a strongly themed range of chapters on empirical topics that are organized around religion, medicine, gender, technology and consumption. It also contributes to the debate over the globalization of the body: how have military technology, modern medicine, sport and consumption led to this contemporary obsession with matters corporeal?

The Handbook’s clear, direct style will appeal to a wide undergraduate audience in the social sciences, particularly for those studying medical sociology, gender studies, sports studies, disability studies, social gerontology, or the sociology of religion. It will serve to consolidate the new field of body studies.

chapter |17 pages

Introduction: The Turn of the Body

ByBryan S. Turner

part |1 pages

Body, Self and Society

chapter 1|13 pages

Simone de Beauvoir and Binaries of the Body

ByMary Evans

chapter 3|13 pages

Norbert Elias and the Body

ByMike Atkinson

chapter 4|13 pages

Embodied Practice: Martin Heidegger, Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault: Bryan S. Turner

ByMichel Foucault Bryan S. Turner

chapter 6|12 pages

Feminist Theory: Bodies, Science and Technology

ByPatricia Ticineto Clough

chapter 7|11 pages

Foucault’s Body

ByNikki Sullivan

part |1 pages

What is a Body?

chapter 8|11 pages

Layers or Versions? Human Bodies and the Love of Bitterness

ByAnnemarie Mol

chapter 9|14 pages

Phenomenology and the Body

ByNick Crossley

chapter 10|13 pages

Social Constructionism and the Body

ByDarin Weinberg

chapter 12|12 pages

Social Brains, Embodiment and Neuro-Interactionism

ByVictoria Pitts-Taylor

part |1 pages

Religion and the Body

chapter 14|11 pages

The Body and the Veil

BySonja van Wichelen

chapter 15|11 pages

Recomposing Decimated Bodies

ByNurit Stadler

part |1 pages

Medical Regimes and the Body

chapter 16|13 pages

Death Signals Life: A Semiotics of the Corpse

ByLianna Hart, Stefan Timmermans

chapter 17|12 pages

Beyond the Anorexic Paradigm: Re-Thinking ‘Eating’ Disorders

BySusan Bordo

chapter 18|8 pages

Disability, Impairment and the Body

ByChristopher A. Faircloth

chapter 19|11 pages

The Body, Social Inequality and Health

ByKevin White

chapter 20|11 pages

Health and the Embodiment of the Life Course

ByJenny Hockey, Allison James

part |1 pages

Gender, Sexualities and Race

chapter 21|18 pages

Chinese Male Bodies: A Transnational Study of Masculinity and Sexuality

ByTravis S. K. Kong

chapter 23|11 pages

Racialized Bodies

ByMaxine Leeds Craig

part |1 pages

Technologies and Body Modification

chapter 25|15 pages

Modified Bodies: Texts, Projects and Process

ByPaul Sweetman

chapter 26|13 pages

Questions of Life and Death: A Genealogy

ByTiago Moreira, Paolo Palladino

chapter 27|14 pages

Rejecting the Aging Body

ByAlex Dumas

chapter 28|7 pages

Conclusion: The Varieties of My Body: Pain, Ethics and Illusio

ByArthur W. Frank