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Title: The experience of 'being large' : a critical psychological exploration of 'fat' embodiment
Author: Tischner, Irmgard
ISNI:       0000 0004 2694 5387
Awarding Body: University of the West of England, Bristol
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2009
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Body size is very much linked to the gendered issue of beauty, as well as, nowadays, to irresponsibility both in terms of a person's physical health and a nation's financial health. As such both men and women are targets in the current 'war on obesity', which is driven by a variety of agencies as well as the media. My research is a critical psychological investigation into the embodied experience of being 'large' or 'fat' in contemporary Western cultures and the present atmosphere of neo-liberal 'healthism'. I conducted 21 interviews with 18 women and 3 men, as well as two focus groups, one with 2 men and one with 6 women, discussing the topic areas of the language used to describe 'large' individuals, the media, appearance, healthy lifestyles and health generally, as well as responsibility and gender. I am taking a feminist post-structuralist perspective, using Foucauldian discourse analysis. Focusing on the themes 'in/visibility', 'clothing', 'health & responsibility' and 'gender', I explore the multiple gendered discourses that converge on 'fat' women and men, and how 'large' individuals are positioned within these discourses. I explore how 'fat women' and 'fat men' are discursively constituted, how they manage their subjectivities and subject positions within the politics of 'obesity', as well as the gendered constructions of embodied 'fat', health and wellbeing, and the power relations and conditions of possibilities produced in discourses of body size. The subject positions constructed and accepted by my participants were dynamic and multiple, at times contradictory and never monolithic. This was in contrast to their positioning within narratives of discrimination, marginalisation and moral and health judgements, which reflected the socially constructed metonymy of the 'fat' body as abject on a number of levels. With this thesis I expand on the research on being 'large' in relation to the discursive regulatory processes at play, the gendered power-relations constituted within them and how these impact on the embodied experiences of 'fat' women and men. I am illustrating post-structuralist discourse analysis as a useful and important method for the exploration of embodied experiences.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Not available Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available