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The Body and Society

The Body and Society
Explorations in Social Theory

Third Edition

May 2008 | 296 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
This is a fully revised edition of a book that may fairly claim to have re-opened the sociology of the body as a legitimate area of enquiry. The book provides an unparalleled guide to all aspects of the sociology of the body. Each chapter has been revised and updated and the book contains new material that reflects changes in the field since the last edition. In particular, Turner's developing position on the centrality of vulnerability.

Assured and innovative, this book provides the most authoritative statement of work on the sociology of the body by what many experts regard to be the leading writer in the field.

"Bryan Turner has revolutionized the way in which we think about ourselves and our bodies. This edition of his book demonstrates further intellectual growth and development; innovative ideas inform an already classic understanding. The human body is the very material of our lives; this book allows us to deepen our knowledge of the meanings of the body in the twenty first century and offers a definitive and emancipatory account of the possibilities (both negative and positive) with which we are presented and which we construct for ourselves."
Mary Evans, University of Kent

Bryan Turner is currently Professor of Sociology at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.

Introduction to the Third Edition
Virtue and the Body: The Debate over Nature and Nurture

Chapter 1: The Mode of Desire
Vulnerability and Values

Needs and Desires

Wisdom and Friendship

The Mode of Desire


Desire and Reason

Homo Duplex

Play and Pleasure

Capitalist Bodies

Chapter 2: Sociology and the Body
Absent Bodies

The Self

Michel Foucault

Spirit and Flesh

Sociology of the Body

Locations for a Theory

Critical Theory


Foucault and the Origins of Sociology


The Person

Chapter 3: The Body and Religion
Capitalism, Desire, Rationality

Sickness, Salvation and Medicine

Medical Ethics and the Medical Fee

Medicine as a Secular Practice

Capitalism and the Body

Chapter 4: Bodily Order
Hobbesian Materialism

Neo-Hobbesian Problem of Order





Chapter 5: Eve's Body
Nature/Culture Argument

The Property Argument

Patriarchal Relations

The Feudal System



An Argument for Divorce

Chapter 6: The End of Patriarchy?
The Dominant Ideology Thesis


Weber on Patriarchy

Engels on Patriarchy

Feminist Theory

The Household in Capitalism


Chapter 7: The Disciplines
Foucault, Language, Desire

The Accumulation of Men


Dietary Management

Table Practices

The Critique of Foucault

Chapter 8: Government of the Body
A Mode of Living

The Orgy and the Fast

On Disease

Man is What He Eats


Body Practices



Women's Complaints

Calculating Hedonism

Chapter 9: Disease and Disorder
Disease versus Illness

On the Specialization of Sin, Disease and Deviance


Medical Morality

Doctors, Women and Sexuality

Culture and Disease

Chapter 10: Ontology of Difference
Marx's Ontology

The Body in Nature and the Nature in the Body

Nietzsche versus Marx

The Body and Difference

Body Paradoxes

Chapter 11: Bodies in Motion - Towards an Aesthetic of Dance
The Experience of Aura

Defining Dance

Dance and Modernism

Conclusion: The Stuff of Dance

Chapter 12: The Body and Boredom - The New Longevity
The Body and Metaphysics

Technology and Living Forever

Body and Soul

The Elixir of Life

Sociology of Ageing

Boredom and the Theology of Prolongevity

Chapter 13: Epilogue - Vulnerability and Values
Embodiment, Vulnerability and Frailty

Human Rights: Frailty, Precariousness and Interconectedness

The Metaphors of Sociability

Evil and the Theological Turn

Forgiveness or Revenge?


Any course on the Sociology of the Body without Bryan Turner's text on The Body and Society is impoverished!

Dr Bethany Simmonds
Social, Historical & Literary Studies, Portsmouth University
September 20, 2016

Along with Chris Shilling's The Body and Social Theory I would recommend The Body and Society to any student studying the body. Next year there are likely to be significant changes to the module and I will be making this book an essential text.

Mr Michael Rees
Business and Social Science, University of Wales
October 29, 2013

An excellent book which will help the learner gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Miss Ali Manion
Health , Swindon College
February 13, 2013

This is THE contemporary text for both academics and students exploring the sociology of the body. Imaginative and insightful discussions are organised into a cohesive and exemplary whole.

Miss Jessica Clark
School of Applied Social Science, University Campus Suffolk
June 25, 2011

Remains the foundational text for courses in the sociology of the body, replete with insights and a depth of analysis that has largely inspired an entire new area of studies across the social sciences. Turner weaves his original theorisation adeptly through a critical assessment of a very wide rage of analytical approaches, which he brings together uniquely in this singular groundbreaking text.

Dr Michael Drake
Criminology & Sociological Studies, Hull University
January 26, 2011

This truly deserves to be considered a classic and I strongly encourage my students to read it from cover to cover. Turner's work on the body needs to be considered in its own right within courses on the sociology of the body and this book should form a key part of any such sessions.

Dr Robert Meadows
Sociology, Surrey University
September 15, 2010

The course content did not permit as detailed a discussion of the body as previously anticipated - however, I will be recommending the volume for a module on the body to be introduced in 2011.
The voulme was useful, covering a variety of relevant issues, although the first year students (who I am currently pitching at) might find some of the concepts and language a little intimidating. I have recommended the volume as an additional text so that those interested in the topic can pursue it in detail.

Dr Steven Jones
Media, Northumbria University
August 23, 2010

Revised and updated throughout, the Third Edition includes:

A brand new introduction.

New chapters on 'Bodies in Motion', 'The Body and Boredom', and 'Vulnerability and Values'.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One PDF

For instructors

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