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In this book, Nick Crossley explores the concept of reflexive embodiment - how we, as embodied beings, reflect upon our own embodiment. He considers the ways in which we modify and maintain our bodies, from brushing our teeth and washing our faces through to tattooing and bodybuilding. Some forms of 'body work' are demanded by social conventions; others represent legitimate choices, and others still deviate from or resist the norm. He argues that a proper understanding of reflexive embodiment must be alert to these differences, and that we must appreciate that our bodies are not passive or inert substances that we can mould as we like. They change in ways that we do not intend and of which we are not aware, and they may prove difficult to change in the ways we do intend. Many theorists in sociology offer perspectives on the link between society and body modification, mostly focused in one way or another upon 'modernity'. "Reflexive Embodiment in Contemporary Society" reviews this literature, evaluates competing claims and suggests an alternative approach. Nick Crossley contends that existing perspectives are very selective in the range of modification practices they focus upon and in their conception of both modernity and its effects upon the body. While various theories identify clusters of modification practices and link them to aspects of modernity, there has been no systematic attempt to combine these partial accounts into a coherent vision. This book provides such a vision and offers a major contribution to the sociology of the body.
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