The embodiment of learning: What the sociology of education doesn't say about 'risk' in going to school

John Evans, Emma Rich, Brian Davies, Rachel Allwood

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24 Citations (SciVal)


Despite burgeoning interests in 'the body' as a topic of sociological interest and analysis in recent decades, with few notable exceptions, the sociology of education has not taken as seriously as it might how 'embodied subjectivities' both shape and are framed by contexts of teaching and learning. There are processes of formal education that may either damage, or richly reward and sustain individual identities, by culture and class. This article suggests that embracing issues of corporeality in analyses of schooling may help us to better understand not only the complexity and importance of 'emotions' (or rather the affective dimensions of corporeality) in teaching and learning, but also the immense 'risks' involved, for some children, in displaying them when cultures of 'performativity' dominate and prevail in schools. Our analysis highlights ways in which powerful discursive tendencies around body perfection, health and performance permeate schools, and influence how and what teachers and pupils think and learn about their identity and self-worth. Informed by data drawn from an ongoing study of the relationships between education, eating disorders and 'obesity discourse', our analyses illustrate the complexity of such processes, while also highlighting the merits of embracing 'embodiment' in theories of learning, teaching, social reproduction and change
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-149
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Studies in Sociology of Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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