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Journal Article

Fecal Matters: Habitus, Embodiments, and Deviance

Social Problems
Vol. 52, No. 3 (August 2005), pp. 315-336
DOI: 10.1525/sp.2005.52.3.315
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Page Count: 22
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Fecal Matters: Habitus, Embodiments, and Deviance
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This article examines fecal matters—namely, the social concerns that can accompany defecation and flatulence. Researching 172 university students, we show how aspects of the socio-cultural context as “embodied” in four groups of participants (heterosexual women and men and non-heterosexual women and men) mediate the operation of the “fecal habitus”—that part of culture that interprets and organizes fecal events (Inglis 2000). The study finds that the heterosexual women and the non-heterosexual men show the greatest commitment to the habitus and the heterosexual men the least. It provides some evidence that the non-heterosexual women also show a decreased commitment. Theoretical contributions show how the concept of embodiment can highlight everyday “social problems prevention work” by paying attention to the role of the different senses, the emotional components involved in bodily mishaps, gender discrimination and the privileging of male status, and the elaboration of stigma theory.

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