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Max Weber och kroppens sociologi
Dalarna University, School of Health and Social Studies, Sociology.
2004 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is about the social body in sociology, represented by the classical sociologist Max Weber. Traditional sociology has not taken the body into account. The body has been considered to belong to the realm of the natural sciences. Sociology has seen the body merely as an instrument or a tool for social action. The mind/body dichotomy, homo duplex, prevails in sociology. The purpose of this investigation is to show that Weber does not totally neglect the social body. I claim that the body is “absent but present” in Weber’s texts. The above-mentioned view that the body is ignored by sociology must, in other words, be modified. I claim that Weber’s texts imply a conception, although rudimentary, of the social body. This conception co-exists, however, with Weber’s tendency to see the body as a natural object. This is in accordance with the general picture of the way sociology treats the body. To examine the question of the social body I turn to philosophy. I believe that some philosophers have been interested in viewing the body as a social rather than a natural object. Plato, René Descartes, Friedrich Nietzsche, Immanuel Kant and finally Maurice Merleau-Ponty have all tried to come to terms with the relationship between the mind and the body. The above-mentioned philosophers, with the exception of Kant, are all therefore concerned with the body as more than simply a biological organism. They try to reconcile the dualistic difference between body and mind. They are, however, mainly concerned with finding a philosophical answer to how mankind can attain knowledge about the object. They are concerned with epistemology and ontology. Sociology, on the other hand, is more concrete and its corresponding concepts are “subject” and “structure”. Sociology fills these concepts with a more non-epistemological and ontological content. He has been described as a subjective sociologist or a micro sociologist, but I claim that this does not give the whole picture. Weber also sees individual intentions and purposes as determined by objective and structural constraints. I divide the works of Weber into two parts. I have named the subjectivist approach “the empowered individual”. Here Weber works at the level of the individual subject. He focuses on the subject’s own experience. The ethically shaped, and therefore systematically self-controlled, body becomes a vehicle for being in the world. The body is subjected to the governing ascetic ethic. The feelings and desires of the body become rationalised into a method and a system. In this way a far-reaching rational discipline is created, a so called “ethical conduct of life is created”. In the writings of Weber the “conduct in life” is described by the concept “habitus”. However, Weber is classical in the sense that he considers habitus as a mental attitude. Other works by Weber include a discussion of the constraining structural surroundings, but Weber prefers to use the concept “life orders” rather than “structures”. Weber describes a number of different life orders which he says form the specific cultural habits adopted by individuals in society. Life orders are the disciplinary apparatus that organize the mind and the body of the individuals. Weber asserts that as a consequence of the power of the life order, a specific everyday habitus of the body and mind is created, i.e. a aesthetic lifestyle.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lund: Department of sociology , 2004.
Series
Lund Dissertations in Sociology, ISSN 1102-4712
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-496OAI: oai:dalea.du.se:496DiVA, id: diva2:523318
Available from: 2004-11-03 Created: 2004-11-03 Last updated: 2012-06-14Bibliographically approved

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