Corporeality Versus Embodiment in Later Life

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Chris GILLEARD, UCL (University College London), United Kingdom
Paul HIGGS, University College London, United Kingdom
The place of the body became salient within sociology in the wake of the cultural turn toward identity, distinction and representation.  In the sociology of later life, the social nature of the body has taken on various forms, as a source of social distinction, as a source of social division and as a vehicle of social agency. In this paper we propose to distinguish between thinking about the ageing body as ‘corporeal’ – in which the body of a person and the self of a person are considered potentially separate – and as ‘embodied’ – in which the body realises the self's identity and personal lifestyle.  While the former (corporeality) serves to objectify age gender and functionality the latter (embodiment) serves to realise the person as both agent and subject.   One way the divisions of later life can be understood is through the dialectic of corporeality (e.g. the fit vs the frail), while difference in later life can be better understood through the practices of embodiment (e.g. acting/not acting your age).  The interplay between these two ways of having and being a body, in later life, we argue, provides a potentially rich framework for exploring both the cultures of the third age and the imaginary of the fourth.