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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Embarrassment and a sociology of the body Ross, Ian David


This study provides a basic orientation for developing a "sociology of the body" from an analysis of embarrassment phenomena. The primary objective is to give emphasis to the contention that the role of the actor's awareness of his body during the course of social transactions has been undeservedly neglected as a subject of sociological inquiry. This is particularly evident with respect to sociological investigations into the dynamics of embarrassment. A number of arguments exposing limitations, problems and inconsistencies in those investigations are entertained for the purpose of illustrating that many themes of body involvement reflecting bodily organizational procedures have not been considered when in fact they appear to be intimately related to the experience and recognition of embarrassment. Bodily organizational procedures are specified in a concern-for-body dimension of embarrassment paradigm which examines the significance of body awareness to encounters involving episodes of embarrassment. This paradigm reveals that the actor assigns a great importance to his ability to maintain control of bodily features in accordance with standards that conform to the expectations of significant others. A theoretical discussion is provided to account for the nature of this importance. It is concluded from this discussion that many factors underlying issues of social acceptance and rejection are integral to the concern for the management of bodily control

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