Body Management and the quest for performative health

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The task of this article is to theorize on the matter of bodywork in relation
to health and thereby propose a theoretical framework that can enlighten our
understanding of bodywork in a ‘health society’. With the ambition of understanding bodywork in a (hyper)modern era, characterized by a strong individualism and the search for performance, the body is here conceived as a capital. The body as a site of investment can be improved, worked upon and has an impact on how the individual distinguishes him/herself in social space. Finding inspiration in the sociology of the body and the anthropologist Le Breton’s approach to the body as an ideal observatory of the social context (1985), this article will explore how a particular rationale towards the body can be observed among some gym goers in Denmark, more precisely younger men and middle aged women. On the basis of narratives acquired through interviews, it is stressed in this article that bodywork evolves around a general will to more health. This rationale can be identified as body management where the gym goers act in order to ensure a performative health.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Theory & Health
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)189-206
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • health promotion
  • health society
  • bodywork
  • hypermodernity
  • body management
  • performative health

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