Kroppens vej ind og ud af samfundsvidenskaben

  • Cristina Alzaga


The body’s journey in and out of social science theory. In the last couple of decades we have witnessed a veritable explosion of literature about the body. This article poses the question of whether the recent “rediscovery” of the instinctual, habitual, feeling, knowing, communicative, erotic and political organism by diverse currents of social inquiry has redeemed the body and moved us toward a resolution of its mystery, or whether it has consigned the body to newer forms of peripherality and obscurity, reducing it to yet another sign, thereby eliding its special presence, knowledge and powers. As opposed to the argument put forward by some students of the body that the fundamental existential fact of human embodiedness belongs to a domain of research neglected in sociological inquiries of the past, this article maintains that in order to hold together and reconcile the body’s manifold facets and guises we need to excavate and build upon the analytical resources handed on to us from the sociological past. It is argued that this can help us to adequately grasp the body as social product, matrix, and mediation, in an effort to move beyond the dualistic and disincarnated theories of action, knowledge and structure that dominate sociological analysis. The article pursues these issues by means of a close examination of several contemporary currents of social theory that circle about and/or through the body. The article draws upon ideas developed at a seminar held at UC Berkeley, USA, with Professor Loic Wacquant, during the fall of 2001.