Contours of everyday life : reflections on embodiment and health over the life course
This study explores lay perceptions of embodiment and health through the narratives ofa group of 'everyday' women and men in a Canadian community. Gender, class and cultural influences on individual and collective experiences of embodiment are examined along with the ways in which these concepts evolve over the life course. The research is based on in depth interviews with a sample of forty working- and middle-class white women and men between the ages of30 and 65. I argue that notions of embodiment and health are multiple, fluid and contextual. They are shaped and reshaped over time in relation to individual biographies and social and cultural influences, and negotiated in relation to the prescribed values of the larger body politic. I suggest that research must attend to the spatial and temporal dimension of ideas about embodiment and health. In the context of this case study, I argue that everyday ideas about regional identity are enmeshed with the cultural codes which signify racial, class and gender identity. These frame peoples' understandings and representations of 'healthy selves' and 'unhealthy others' and are central to their notions of embodiment. Based on these findings, I propose a more nuanced approach to theorizing 'the body' and health in feminist and sociological theory. I argue for a closer engagement between theoretical frameworks and empirical studies with the aim of developing a more fully embodied social theory.