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By Tulle Emmanuelle
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Extra resources for Ageing, The Body and Social Change: Agency and Indentity Among Ageing Athletes
Here, what is foregrounded is the incorporation of the awareness of difference and of the meanings (and expectations of appropriate behaviour) attributed to different types of bodies. Thus through social action we incorporate the value placed on our bodies, our social location, and we embody ourselves accordingly. Class, gender and race are three important structures in which social actors become embodied, that is through which social distinction is realised. Bourdieu and Wacquant (1992) call this process “hexis’’, that is the embodiment of what he referred to as “political mythology’’, that is our symbolic capital or our position in the social hierarchy which is largely unquestioned.
Training must be regular and constant. This leads Wacquant (1995) to conceptualise the athletic body as capital, arguing that the body is caught up in an economy designed to transform it from raw, untrained material to one that will yield valuable and valued attributes. The overall competence which is acquired through the intimate relationship, fostered by training, between the athletes and their bodies is termed “mastery’’, a concept he uses to articulate the recursive relationship between body work and bodily capital, that is the symbiotic relationship between training and the acquired need to be a competent practitioner.
I will draw on the sociology of the body to identify conceptual tools and key debates which could provide a template for the development of a set of questions which would help us interrogate ageing embodiment. Theorising the body – what bodies? The sociology of the body has spawned a large “body’’ of work which has interrogated the socio-cultural context in which the body has become prominent. Firstly, a debate has emerged about what might be the most appropriate theoretical framework within which to capture the body as a key social process.