First public appearance for Uncivil Bodies
Yesterday at the Southbank centre, I presented for the first time in public Uncivil Bodies, the project I am developing with my colleague and collaborator Caroline Smith. The event was “Endangered Species” -one of a series of workshops, held in five major world cities this month and organised by activist feminist groups around issues of body image for women and girls.
Most of the presentations reported initiatives in support of persons with eating disorders or body image problems. Ours was a bit different as we aimed to place eating disorders against the broader background of eating behaviours with their recent, complex transformations and increasing diversification. What’s more, we problematised eating behaviours by relating them to people’s social relationships and social networks, with focus on how the ones impinge on the others. And of course, we insisted on our transdisciplinary perspective and its complementary role with respect to the narrower clinical approach, traditionally dominant but no longer sufficient to capture the multiple faces of the phenomenon.
I first started by outlining my own background, in particular the research project ANAMIA that I am developing with a multi-disciplinary team of researchers on the so-called “pro-ana” websites and how they create a new form of sociability for persons with eating disorders. Traditionally, these persons could meet only when placed in specialised care structures; with the Internet, however, they have had a new means to get in touch with their peers outside medical control, and have been quick to exploit it. There is still much to learn, though, on the effects of this new social linkages on actual eating and health behaviours, an issue that has become even more complex with the advent of online social networking services and the so-called Web 2.0. Further, it is still unclear how these relationships compare to those established offline (family, school, workplace), especially insofar as influence on eating is concerned. These are the questions we are exploring.
Caroline then presented her own work, especially her performance “Eating secret” and how a one-by-one exchange around a food-related issue had for many of her participants a transformative role, in non-pathologising perspective. A secret, in fact, is not necessarily a disorder -it may just involve some sense of uneasiness without necessarily having any strong negative effects on health, and after all, it may even be just a pleasure.
We then mentioned the two workshops we are planning to hold at the University of Greenwich (probably next month), aiming to let new questions arise around the broad issues of sharing experiences or memories that revolve around food, self-displaying an eating disorder, connecting with others around the table (or around the computer, for that matter!). We then aim to discuss these emerging questions widely, collecting feedback from a variety of interested stakeholders – from academics of various disciplinary backgrounds to health practitioners, food company or restaurant professionals, and charities or health activists – in order to develop a broader understanding that draws on the diverse insights of many disciplines, approaches and experiences.
We invited attendees to share their contact information with us, and we reiterate our invitation here -to all those who may wish to participate in the debate, all perspectives included.
Filed under: Socioeconomic studies of health | 1 Comment
Tags: Arts, Eating behaviors, Eating disorders, Food choices, Pro-ana and pro-mia websites, Trans-disciplinarity, Web-based social networks
I am an economic sociologist with interest in social networks and their impact on markets, organisations, consumer choice and health.
My research also includes work in social science methodology and data.
- Get to know the new UK Data Service for social & economic sciences: esrc.ac.uk/funding-and-gu… #data @UKDataService 2 weeks ago
- @philmikejones good, see you tomorrow! 1 month ago
- @brainthingsmr with pleasure! I'll be around tomorrow until the plenary #britsoc13 1 month ago
- Good questions for our presentation on social support in online communities on eating disorders: thanks to all! #britsoc13 @anamia 1 month ago
- Just about to present results of our social network study of eating disorder online communities at #britsoc13 @anamia anamia.fr/en 1 month ago
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