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By Megan Watkins (auth.), Megan Watkins (eds.)

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Extra info for Discipline and Learn: Bodies, Pedagogy and Writing

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Any enabling potential of disciplinary power is directed towards social utility rather than individual agency. This passive conceptualisation of embodiment has tended to dominate sociology of the body (Shilling, 2005, p. 1) and is similarly evident within education. Jones’s (2000) study on the dynamics at play in learning to write is one such example. Jones’s focus is the contradictory nature of disciplinary power. She discusses the joy and sense of satisfaction a child feels in mastering the mechanics of handwriting but interprets this newfound bodily facility as a form of submission to “the meticulous controls of pedagogy”.

Cartesianism is summarily dismissed, but the gap resulting from its demise is all but ignored, seemingly filled by the concentration given to explicating the corporeal. Yet debates around emphasising either structure or agency may in fact result from this failure to engage with notions of consciousness and the nature of the mind/body relation; an issue of particular poignancy for understanding the role of the body in learning. In the next chapter an attempt is made to correct this imbalance by proposing an alternate ontological framework that incorporates notions of body and mind with the intention of providing a firmer foundation on which to theorise the pedagogic.

Within sociology, his work influenced the development of a sub-discipline related specifically to the body as the locus of inquiry. Despite Mauss’s insights during the 1930s and 40s, the body was largely neglected within sociology, considered either a topic of primarily biological concern or an area where theorisation tended towards a form of individualism lacking a sociological focus (Turner, 1984). This latter criticism was often directed towards ethnomethodology and symbolic interactionism, as in the work of Garfinkel (1967) and Goffman (1959, 1972).

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