Visual Representations of Health, Risk and the Body in Everyday Life

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:28
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Wendy MARTIN, Brunel University London, United Kingdom
Katy PILCHER, Aston University, United Kingdom
Health practices are performed, understood and embodied within the context of the daily lives of people as they grow older. There is however limited research into the ways health, risk and the body are lived and experienced when situated within everyday life. This paper draws on data from the study 'Photographing Everyday Life: Ageing, Lived Experiences, Time and Space' funded by the ESRC. The focus of the project was to explore the significance of the ordinary and day-to-day and focus on the everyday meanings, lived experiences, practical activities, and social contexts in which people in mid to later life live their daily lives. The research involved a diverse sample of 62 women and men aged 50 years and over who took photographs of their different daily routines to create a weekly visual diary. This diary was then explored through in-depth photo-elicitation interviews to make visible the rhythms, patterns and meanings that underlie habitual and routinised everyday worlds. The data was analysed using the software Atlas Ti.  The analysis highlighted:  (1) the role of food practices to the organisation of daily life and how participants draw on wider discourses of health, risk and the body; (2) the embodied performance and visual representation of being ‘active’; and (3) the incorporation of health practices into daily life, such as, taking medication, supplements, and visits to health practitioners. The paper will conclude by exploring the significance of these discourses around health, risk and the body in relation to debates on the medicalisation of everyday life.