Aging, Embodiment, and the Somatic Turn
This article addresses contemporary representations of bodily aging by calling attention to the difference between “corporeality” and “embodiment.” Drawing on Haraway’s distinction between the body as social actant and the body as a site of social agency, we argue for the need to distinguish between aging as corporeality—treating the aging body as a social actant—and aging as embodiment—treating the aging body as co-constructor of its own identity. Embodiment, or embodied habitus, is realized through embodied identities and the embodied practices associated with past and present identities. This distinction is important
in locating the new narratives and performances of later life emerging in the aftermath of the cultural revolution of the 1960s. The rise of somatic society, the growth of mass consumerism, and the new politics of identity initially targeted youth buthave since extended their infuence across the life course. These phenomena have helped realize variously embodied, valued identities through whose trajectories it has become possible to think the aging body differently.
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