You are here

Re-forming the Body

Re-forming the Body
Religion, Community and Modernity

February 1997 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Through an analysis of successive reformations of the body, this innovative and penetrating book constructs a fascinating and wide-ranging account of how the creation and evolution of different patterns of human community are intimately related to the somatic experience of the sacred. The book places the relationship between embodiment and the sacred at the crux of social theory and casts a fresh light on the emergence and transformation of modernity. It critically examines the thesis that the rational projects of modern embodiment have died and gone to cyberspace and suggests that we are witnessing the rise of a virulent, effervescent form of the sacred that is changing how people see and keep in touch with the world around them. Grounded in classical and contemporary theory, Re-Forming the Body makes a seminal contribution to understanding the relationship between the sacred and profane: the world of religious and moral sentiment and the world of the body. It will be essential reading for graduates, postgraduates, and advanced undergraduates in sociology and social theory, the body, religious studies, cultural studies, and related areas.
Re-formed Bodies
Volatile Bodies, Sacred Communities
Sinful Bodies, Profane Associations
Janus-Faced Modernity
Ambivalent Bodies
Concluding Comments

'It is difficult to qualify excitement and enthusiasm for this book.... For those studying and teaching on the body... the book is an essential text.... It addresses mainstream theoretical concerns in a way that is well grounded historically and takes account of the complexity and subtlety of recent changes. It is clearly written and offers a well balanced introduction to a number of key sociological debates and concerns... [T]he book succeeds in casting new light on the emergence and development and transformation of the modern Western World' - Sociology of Health and Illness

'One can see from reading Mellor and Shilling the sophisticated developments that have taken place in social theory with regard to the body. Re-forming the Body provides a fascinating interweaving of literature aiming to create a whole new geneaology of the body in western religious thought.... By locating the sacred in the sensual relations of a group Mellor and Shilling break the traditional western division between the secular and the sacred.... What Mellor and Shilling provide is a stimulating and informative account of how the body is re-formed in various historical periods and how it seemingly resists thought' - Scottish Journal of Religious Studies

`A real breakthrough. After a decade of teaching the sociology and anthropology of the body this is the essential text that I've been waiting for. A superb demonstration of how cultural and religious beliefs and practices help shape society' - Professor Ronald Frankenberg, University of Keele

`Mellor and Shilling locate the historical transformation of the sacred and secular realms in a struggle between the banal bodies of conractarianism and the grotesque bodies of solidarity. They also identify the new stratifying and exclusionary techniques of the hard bodies in affluent and disengaged groups. The result is very much more subtle than many accounts of the postmodern habitus' - John O'Neill, York University, Toronto

`A miracle of creative and critical synthesis which will get a sympathetic reception in many intellectual circles.... Ambitious, bold and provocative' - Jim Beckford, Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick

Mellor and Schilling contribute to a growing sociological literature on "embodiment" as the matrix for both collective experience and the sense of self. Their nonteleological model uses ideal-types to examine the persistence of the sacred in Western development..The book and its bibliography will be a welcome overview in courses on the body and the sensoria. Readers in all disciplines who are interested in pursuing the important insight that the construction of reality is an embodied process will find this provocative reading' - American Journal of Sociology

Philip A Mellor

Philip Mellor is Professor of Religion and Social Theory at University of Leeds.  More About Author

Chris Shilling

I am Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR). See the rest of the Sociology team.... More About Author

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9780803977235