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Childhood Embodiment - Essay Example

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Childhood Embodiment

Embodiment of children, thus need to take into account all the aspects that go into the formation of the childhood body.
In order to execute a comprehensive theory of childhood embodiment it is important to locate the 'body' within the history of cultural, sociological and anthropological disciplines that have been vigorously, and at times, violently, divided into camps of biological and social reductionism. One point of view has been intent on summarily precluding the other view, and at times quite unexpected ideological fidelity has been worked out among conflicting schools. If we divide the whole approaches into 'foundationalism' and 'non-foundationalism' schools, then probably the conflicting trends become much clearer. The Foundationalist schools have a strong grounding on the body. It believes in a kind of physiological starting point, as the body being the nodal point in which and through which all other experiences are grounded. It is the base on which the superstructure of society is based. This is very clearly associated with the naturalistic view of the body. The naturalistic view is best expressed in Shillings words:
The capabilities and constraints of human bodies define individuals, and generate the social, political and economic relations which characterize national and international patterns of living. Inequalities in material wealth legal rights and political powerare given, or at the very least legitimized, by the determining power of the biological body. (Shilling 41)
While there is a clear prioritization of the body, the naturalistic clarification of embodiment also appears have a transcendental view that believes and promotes something constant, however changing that may be, that unify body together. This line of thought have its heritage in the liberal humanist schools of thought that came to characterize all theoretical formulations pervading in the Anglo-American universities at the beginning of the twentieth century.
On the other extreme of the foundationalist schools, lie the non-foundationalist schools of thought, who look at the body as merely a product of social constructions. Often equated with the approach of social reductionism, this line of thought is anxious of giving the 'body' as such, any real of transcendental identity. At its radical height, the social reductionist approach is characterized by the work of someone like Michael Foucault, for whom the 'body' in itself does not exist, but is merely a product of discourses of power. It disappears as a material entity. If this view appears to be extreme in the sense that it denies the body any role as a meaningful and operative agency, there are other social constructionist approaches that are less radical and appear, on the face of it, more plausible. We can, for example, take a look at Feathersone's theory, which looks at the body as a product of consumer culture. The biggest problem of these ...Show more


The focus towards childhood embodiment has increased markedly in the last fifty years of so of anthropological studies. Even though, the finer points of the distinctions and divisions between key aspects of the nature, culture and the relationships between the bodily and the social are to worked out in the formation of a coherent theoretical groundwork for a study of individual childhood, yet the need to focus on the growth of the child's body as a necessary part of the growing up process has been universally conceded…
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Childhood Embodiment essay example
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