Knowing the Right Measure - How Class Matters in Bodily Practices (the German experience)

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Paula Irene VILLA, LMU Munich, Germany
In sociological debates regarding embodiment, it has become common sensical to state that bodily practices (such as quantification, self-presentation, fitness, sports, cosmetic surgery, etc.) follow the governmental imperative of explicit (self-)optimization. While this is surely true in an empirical sense, I argue that this is not the whole empirical picture. Based on own research regarding a) cosmetic surgery and b) quantified self-monitoring in relation to food and fitness (in the German context), I will argue that class/status and according capital (in the Bourdieu'an sense) do matter. In our research (group discussion on cosmetic surgery along milieus, and ANT oriented participant observation with self-tracker and life loggers; both in Germany), we have found that the ethic of aesthetics - e.g. what is considered as 'good' bodily practice or how people judge others through an evaluation bodily practices etc. - follow distinctive milieus and structural positioning. We further found that a core concept of such aesthetic/ethical arguments is the seemingly common-sensical reference to "the right measure". In our material, the "right measure" constantly reappears as signifier (Derrida) for a specific truth. Further, we found that people articulate diffuse uneasiness and even critique of current political and social conditions - such we might label as neoliberal governmentality - through narratives of micro political embodiment practices (such as laziness, sloppiness, leaky bodies, etc.)
Beyond the presentation of the empirical studies and according results in detail, in my presentation I hope to open a debate over class and (intersectional) inequality on practices of embodiment.