Transformations such as technical and medical developments and an aging population, particularly in industrial advanced societies, affect the material body as well as the connection between body and mind, consciousness and identity. Against this background, the body is often understood as a machine whose ability is to be maximized and disciplined. However, the body can also be understood as vulnerable, a vulnerability that is common to the human experience of the living body.
A sociology of the body can adopt different theoretical perspectives, focusing for example on the meeting between the individual and professionals or on people’s lived experiences of their material body and on how everyday experiences become embodied. It may explore how bodily differences involve different possibilities and limitations in terms of citizenship, inclusion and exclusion, or understand practices and discourses concerning the body as expressions of power, knowledge and control.