The human body is thought of conventionally as a biological entity,
with its longevity, morbidity, size and even appearance determined
by genetic factors immune to the influence of society or culture.
Since the mid-1980s, however, there has been a rising awareness of
how our bodies, and our perception of them, are influenced by the
social, cultural and material contexts in which humans live.
Drawing on studies of sex and gender, education, governance, the
economy, and religion, Chris Shilling demonstrates how our physical
being allows us to affect the material and virtual world around us,
yet also enables governments to shape and direct our thoughts and
actions. Revealing how social relationships, cultural images, and
technological and medical advances shape our perceptions and
awareness, he exposes the limitations of traditional Western
traditions of thought that elevate the mind over the body as that
which defines us as human. Dealing with issues ranging from
cosmetic and transplant surgery, the performance of gendered
identities, the commodification of bodies and body parts, and the
violent consequences of competing conceptions of the body as
sacred, Shilling provides a compelling account of why body matters
present contemporary societies with a series of urgent and
inescapable challenges. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short
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