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The Body and Social Theory

The Body and Social Theory

Third Edition

September 2012 | 336 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Unrivalled in its clarity and coverage, this sparkling new edition of Chris Shilling's classic text is a masterful account of the emergence and development of body matters in sociology and related disciplines.

A timely, well reasoned response to current concerns and controversies across the globe, it provides chapter-by-chapter coverage of the major theories, approaches and studies conducted in the field. Each chapter has been revised and updated, with new discussions of 'action network theory', bodywork, pragmatism, the global resurgence of religious identities, 'new genetics', biological citizenship, and figurations of the living and dead.

Packed full of critical analysis and relevant empirical studies the book engages with the major classical and contemporary theories within body studies including the:

Original, logical and indispensible, this is a must-have title for students and researchers engaged with the study of the body.

Preface to the Third Edition
The Body in Sociology
The Naturalistic Body
The Socially Constructed Body
The Body and Social Inequalities: Embodying Sociology
The Body and Physical Capital
The Civilized Body
The Body, Self-Identity and Death: Figurations of Life and Death
Afterword: Embodiment, Identity and Theory
Absent-Present Bodies

The Body and Self-Identity

Body Theories and Corporeal Realism


In The Body and Social Theory Chris Shilling has built on his expertise in the sociology of the body to provide a canonical treatment of the subject that he renders with theoretical depth and clarity of prose, making this book invaluable.
Jaqueline Low
University of New Brunswick, Canada

Lucidly argued and accessibly written, this book makes a convincing case for an embodied sociology which avoids the pitfalls of either too much naturalism or too much social constructivism. It is a book with something for everyone, from the classics in social theory on the body to contemporary bodily phenomena like genetics, body modification, and cultural anxieties about death.
Kathy Davis
Utrecht University

With many new additions, both substantive and theoretical, this volume is at the forefront of body studies. Written in a crisp and concise manner, it is an authoritative and invaluable contribution.

Bryan S. Turner
The Graduate Centre, CUNY

This text examines embodiment and theories of the body in society. It tackles a range of perspectives on the topic and is quite survey-like at times, due to the vast array of theory it aims to include. It would be of interest particularly to postgraduate and doctoral students with a direct focus on its subject matter.

Dr Louise Campbell
School of Education & Social Work, Dundee University
July 22, 2019

Chris Shilling's books provide a foundation for any Sociology of the Body course.

Dr Bethany Simmonds
Social, Historical & Literary Studies, Portsmouth University
August 21, 2016

I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who is, or wishes to study the body and social theory. It is a fantastically written book, which enables key concepts / theories to be easily understood at both undergraduate and post graduate level. Great to have a new edition!

Miss Amy Clark
Sport Science, Tourism & Leisure Dept, Canterbury Christ Church University
November 12, 2014

Great to have a new edition - this is essential reading and provides clear, accessible yet original overview of social theory and the body.

Dr Sarah Nettleton
Sociology Department, University of York
February 11, 2014

An interesting book which will be useful for the module which runs during year 1 of the undergraduate programme. Some of the concepts are particularly relevant for several topics covered on the module. For students who are new to the discipline of sociology this book maybe a little daunting.

Ms Karen Iley
Nursing Midwifery & Social Work, University of Manchester
October 23, 2013

Well referenced solid coverage for the PG student.

Mr William Spence
School of Medicine, University of Glasgow
April 26, 2013

Great for Level 3 and Postgraduate students, the key text on the body

Dr Philippa Velija
Health and Life Sciences, York St John University College
April 16, 2013

Supplemental reading for education students.

Mrs Jane McFadden
Independent Learning Centre, Barnet College
December 21, 2012

This is a very useful text and appropriate for the reading level of the students on the module.

Mr Robert MacMaster
Dept of Social & Political Studies, University of Westminster
December 20, 2012

Sample Materials & Chapters

Shilling: Chapter 1

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