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SOC 132D: Body Politics: Desirability, disability, and other ways that society puts meaning on our bodies

In early education, children are often taught to think of the human body in terms of facts - for example, by learning the names of bones or the way that different bodily systems work together. Thinking of the body in this way is to employ a biomedical understanding of the human body - in the realm of science, doctors, and data. Yet, cultural understandings pervade the way that bodies are perceived, categorized, studied, and understood. What is described as 'normal' functioning of the body, and what is considered a pathology? A disability? What type of bodily variation (in body size, eyebrow shape, foot size) gets deemed as meaningful or important? What historical and social processes have shaped the types of traits that we value in a body and what we consider to be a problem? As we critically think about the human body and the social processes that drive our understanding of it, we will engage in some of the core dynamics of the field of Sociology. Throughout the course, students will learn to think about systems of inequality and stratification and power dynamics, with the human body being the application of our analyses.
Terms: Sum | Units: 3
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