'Emboldened bodies': social class, school health policy and obesity discourse

Laura De Pian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)


This paper examines the multiple ways in which health policy relating to obesity, diet and exercise is recontextualised and mediated by teachers and pupils in the context of social class in the UK. Drawing on a case study of a middle-class primary school in central England, the paper documents the complexity of the policy process, its uncertainty, its intended and unintended affects and effects on the lives and bodies of young people as they negotiate ‘health’ across a range of social contexts. Particular attention is paid to the voices of young people, whom by way of embodying imperatives found in health discourses become ‘troubled bodies’, ‘emboldened bodies’, or ‘insouciant bodies’, as such imperatives intersect with pupils' various subjectivities. It is argued that whilst all pupils appear to be affected by health policy, they are differently effected by it. The paper will outline how pupils were effected by health policy in emboldened and privileged ways and how the young people seem to not only remain unscathed by health imperatives but are also positively emboldened and privileged by them. This paper adds to understandings of social class and relationships between public health discourse and individual (e.g. pupil) subjectivity, and highlights both the complexity of the policy process itself as a product of the organisational and social relations of schooling, as well as the complex and idiosyncratic nature of young people's embodied subjectivities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-672
Number of pages18
JournalDiscourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education
Issue number5
Early online date28 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • embodiment
  • health policy
  • obesity discourse
  • recontextualisation
  • schools
  • subjectivity


Dive into the research topics of ''Emboldened bodies': social class, school health policy and obesity discourse'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this