Agency and the Vulnerable Body

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: Booth 66
Oral Presentation
Kevin MCDONALD , Department of Criminology and Sociology, Middlesex Univesity, London, United Kingdom
Sociological approaches to agency have largely been framed in terms of intention and strategy, considering the body to be an instrument of action.  However contemporary forms of collective action highlight the increasing importance of embodied experience and the senses, associated with bodies in place, mobility, and embodied publics.  Such embodied experiences are not simply acts of claiming place, but experiences of displacement and vulnerability, evident in the embodied experience of strangeness and modes of action where evocative experiences of art are more important than programmes and demands. These transformations are evident in the shift from the incorporating rhythms of the protest march to embodied grammars evident in occupations, from Tahrir Square to Taksim Square.  This paper explores this transformation of action, as unity and collective identity give way to a ethical grammar grounded in displacement, vulnerability and embodying another self.  The paper considers the implications for an embodied theory of agency, and the implications for the sociology of social movements as older models of identity-action give way to acting as embodiment.