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Title: Watching our weight : an exploration into the politics of the body using intersections between post-structuralist feminism and Foucault's discipline and punish
Author: Morris, Amelia
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2018
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In feminist theory, there is no greater site of contestation than that of the body. This thesis explores how, often, these debates on the body become centred upon a dichotomy between oppression and liberation. There is a vast diversity of scholarship that challenges this binary ranging from post-colonial, post-structuralist and Marxist feminist work, nevertheless, the dichotomy is still in action. This thesis focuses in on this dichotomy through the lens of dieting, to argue that the 'feminine' body is not simply a site of oppression or liberation. Rather, I draw upon the meeting points between Foucault's (1977) Discipline and Punish and post-structuralist feminist scholarship to suggest that power works 'through' the everyday language and actions used to construct dieting and fatness. Using Weight Watchers and Slimming World as case studies, I note how processes of self-surveillance discipline dieters bodies through the act of confession and the structuring of one's time around weight-loss. The underlying aim of the thesis demonstrates the complexities that surround women's relationship to the body; it is simplistic to suggest that dieting is a product of 'oppression' or a tool for 'empowerment.' In challenging this dichotomy, the thesis extends criticism of some post-structuralist feminist scholarship, which can occasionally 'fall back' into binary discussions of the body. Additionally, the thesis cements itself within the wealth of black feminist scholarship; by exploring the discourses surrounding Oprah Winfrey's dieting 'journey', the thesis addresses the gaps on race and gender within Discipline and Punish.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: H Social Sciences (General) ; HQ The family. Marriage. Woman