SOC327 2017 Tut1 – Wed 1530

How do you feel? Bodies and emotions seem like the most basic and essential parts of us. You knew your body before you could talk, and your feelings before you could think. They form the core of you. How can such primal things as bodies and emotions – the greatest markers of who you are as an individual – be influenced by society?

Perhaps a few questions might help answer the question:

  • Do you have a tattoo?
  • Do you wear a dress?
  • Did you have braces?
  • How well do you throw a ball?
  • Do you tell people in your life that you love them regularly?
  • Can you restrain your anger?
  • Are you envious of anyone around you?
  • How happy are you?

Think about your answers to these questions. Were these just simple choices that you made as an individual, or skills you did or didn’t pick up at random? Or did your society shape your answers in predictable ways, based on your sex, age, race, education, wealth, health, and social class background? How has society shaped your body, and the way you display and use it? How has society shaped your feelings, their expression, and how you manage them?

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3 Comments

  1. As a mature aged student I have found that the way society shaped my emotions earlier in life ie: in my 20’s, has changed. I am less likely to conform to the expected to emotions and often allow my primal emotions to take lead. To further reflect on this change as I have aged I have been thinking about my Dad. He is in his late 70’s and has dementia. He often has no social filters when it comes to his emotions. For example when I visited him at his nursing home last week he referred to the lovely nurse that was assisting him as ‘Big Bum’, I of course was mortified. The nurse polietly shrugged it off, quite probably trying very hard to control her emotions, and my Dad sat and wondered what the problem was with stating the obvious.

    This is a clear example for me that as children we have no filters, we simply express how we feel. As young teens and adults the way we learn to behave within our society it at its highest. I think my 20’s were when I was most critical of my own emotions and more willing to not use my agency to express myself. And as you age to the point of my Dad, those expected, learnt and practiced reaponses are less important or forgotten.

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  2. Society has had a large part in shaping my body and the way I use it. I’m a young white woman in my early twenties, and of good health. I was brought up in a moderate to high socioeconomic society, attended an all girls catholic school. Most women like me are exposed to media, which plays the largest roles in dictating my body, how I use it and how I express my feelings. Media has a predominant role in that it popularises a certain way one should look and a act. Skinny, strong, long hair, straight teeth, tan, balanced lifestyle, balanced eating and on and on. These theme’s are pushed into my reality through magazines, TV and the internet. My peers than praise this way of being through social media, and now I feel a need to be like that as a way of social inclusion.

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  3. I believe that society shapes the individual in more than one way and by doing so, the individual the helps to shape society into their views. This relates to the lecture where there was discussion about a structuralist theory noted from Lupton and Shilling. The idea behind this theory is that bodies and emotions are shaped by social factors. One way society has influenced me was, the way my parents raised me. I think I was influenced by the way society had influenced them, For example; my father was raised in a society where boys were expected to play sports, so when I reached a certain age my father registered me into the local footy club. When I was a teenager, I actually asked him what made him sign me into league at such a young age, and his response was just because he was always taught that’s what was right for boys. Therefore, by society influencing my father in that sense, I was influenced physically, noticeably in my capability to “throw a ball” the length and way I do.
    I also believe society influenced the way I react to my own feelings and emotions. For example; Growing up for me, I was told it was not good for a boy to cry, a lot of my friends as well shared that common belief from a young age. Crying was labelled symbolic for weakness, and it’s only when I started to think freely in my early teen years, that I started to realise that it’s totally okay for a boy to cry. Although this seems like it is my individuality, society when I was in my teens was generally encouraging individuals into becoming free thinkers, so an argument that could be made is, I was possibly shaped into becoming a free thinking individual because of society, and in a turn of events, this free thinking theorizing will help me to also possibly change society.
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