Ageing, the Body and Social Change: Running in Later Life by Emmanuelle Tulle (auth.)

By Emmanuelle Tulle (auth.)

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In other words, their physical capital can be used to yield social and, in some cases, economic capital within the social world of the activity. The third theme is that of identity. What boxers, bodybuilders, ballet dancers and runners ultimately construct and achieve through the embodiment of mastery and the acquisition of different forms of capital is their identity as boxer, bodybuilder, ballet dancer and runner. The athletic identity is achieved when the sensations of the body are no longer distinguishable from the dispositions of the athlete.

This, Freund (1988) shows, quoting Turner (1996) and Foucault (1976), ushered in a concern with the rational and systematic urge to control populations, particularly reproduction, bodies in space and time, the interior of bodies and emotions, and appearances. But it also yielded different kinds of bodies – bodies showed that they could be altered and become the target of cultural manipulation. Correspondingly, in the sociology of the body, the body came to be apprehended as socially constructed and as object.

The civilising process is reliant on a view of the body as unfinished and malleable and as both biological and social. Elias identifies three processes which are key to the civilising of bodies: firstly, their socialisation; secondly, their rationalisation; and thirdly, the individualisation of both the body and the self. The latter two are particularly useful here. Processes of rationalisation indicate the detachment of the body from the self, enabling greater control and management of bodily processes.

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