The body made flesh: embodied learning and the corporeal device

John Evans, Brian Davies, Emma Rich

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108 Citations (SciVal)


Over recent years there has been growing appreciation of the body's corporeal significance in how children learn in educational settings. 'The body' has been conceptualised from a variety of perspectives that we characterise as: 'the body without flesh', 'the body with fleshy feelings' and 'the body made flesh'. We reflect on these perspectives with reference to the model of embodied action used in our ongoing research on relationships between education and disordered bodies, outlining what they might differently offer in terms of understanding body/mind/culture relationships. We suggest that Basil Bernstein's notion of the 'pedagogic device', when reworked around the concept of a 'corporeal device', may provide one way of better conceptualising such relationships avoiding some of the fault lines and dualistic thinking inherent in other perspectives. If, as sociologists or school practitioners, we are to address the agency of 'the body' in cultural reproduction and better understand how the corporeal realities of children influence their sense of position, value and self, then we will need to deal with both the 'physical' and the 'phenomenal' universes of discourse, and the 'somatic mediations' of lived experience. This will mean giving as much attention to the biological dimensions of embodiment as its discursive representation currently receives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-406
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number4
Early online date15 Jun 2009
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


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