A number of sociologists have identified the emergence of a ‘new paradigm’ of health, based on the principle that the National Health Service should seek to prevent ill-health rather than simply treat the sick. The sociology of health promotion that has emerged over the past 15 years has contributed to debates about risk, lifestyle and consumerism, but the gendered nature of what some refer to as the ‘new morality of health’, and in particular its urging of feminine attributes, has largely been neglected. This article provides a critical examination of the ‘new paradigm’ of health and its relationship to femininity. I suggest that femininity involves a certain attitude to the body that we also find in current health policy, and cultural representations of health more generally: that the body is essentially uncontrollable (yet something we should seek to control, as a matter of virtue), that it is a good in and of itself, and that it is synonymous with the self.
- the body
- new paradigm of health