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Title: "You asked what being healthy means to me and the answer is, it means everything": a feminist post-structural analysis of disordered eating, education and health
Authors: Allwood, Rachel F.
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: © Rachel F. Allwood
Abstract: With a heritage rooted in the developing field of nineteenth century psychiatry, up until its classification within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR, American Psychiatric Association, 2000) today, disordered eating has been dominantly conceptualized as individual psy-medical pathology (Hepworth, 1999: 2). Drawing on a feminist post-structuralist theoretical framework which views dominant understandings of disordered eating as socially constructed through discourse, this research re-situates disordered eating within the multiple, complex, gendered, classed and racialised socio-cultures within which it is produced, indicating the wider discourses and social contexts which may be implicated in its development - particularly those across the formal and informal cultures of schools. Notwithstanding the volume of interest, literature and research on disordered eating, surprisingly little detailed attention has been given to the part that pedagogical processes of formal education may play in its development, either alone or in conjunction with social practices outside of schools. Yet, increasingly, research has pointed towards the intensification of the regulation, surveillance and monitoring of young people s healthy bodies, particularly in contexts such as physical education (Webb, Quennerstedt & Öhman, 2008). More specifically, this focus has been upon young people s weight in an effort to curtail the approach of an assumed obesity epidemic (Evans, Rich, Davies & Allwood, 2008b). This study examines how discourses of the body, weight and health are being translated into pedagogies enacted across a range of cultural sites (Wright, 2009) at school and outside of school, within the lives of a group of young women experiencing disordered eating. It explores the ways in which they are interpreting these health messages, illustrating how they co-mingle with performative neo-liberal discourses at school and at home, to propel these young women towards behaviours that are, in fact, damaging to their health. Although they are well-versed in dominant obesity/health discourses and the meanings they construct, the narratives of these young women illustrate the influence of these discourses, with their narrow focus on weight , upon problematic relationships with their bodies and food. The research concludes by pointing to the need for de-centring dominant obesity/health discourses in schools and for alternative ways of thinking about the body, weight and health to be filtered into education contexts.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/6568
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences)

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