Is the Body a Social Construction?

1447 Words6 Pages
The phrase “social construction” is difficult to define as it encompasses a multitude of elements, but despite that, conventionally, social construction shows ways society has conceptualised expectations and ideals which can be related to specific sociological interested areas, such as the body. Social action has been shown to have an effect on the transformation of a biological individual, although bodies appear to be simply natural - eye colour, body shape, size of feet etc - a deeper context reveals that many social situations and factors contribute to the construction of bodies. How are we to make sense of people’s bodies? Theoretical traditions which highlight socially constructed bodies have been put forward by theorists such as Elias, Foucault, Goffman and Bourdieu, however, an alternative strategy of viewing socially constructed bodies could be to link these apparently contrasting theories together. This essay will focus upon ways in which the body appears to be a social construction, paying particular detail on the length individuals endure to perform socially constructed ideals with reference to gender and class.

It is obvious that biology highlights many ways in which bodies are naturally different, including male and female dissimilarities; a main article which emphasises this is Schiebinger’s “Skeletons in the Closet”, showing that in 1795 a claim of the first illustration of a female skeleton was made. Previously, there was only one ideal skeleton illustration
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