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By Emmanuelle Tulle (auth.)

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Extra info for Ageing, the Body and Social Change: Running in Later Life

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Here Foucault was concerned with articulating the impact on the bodies of inmates of systems of surveillance, embodied in the panopticon, present in the modern prison. The constant reality, or simply the threat, of being observed makes it easier to instill behaviour changes in those subjected to the “gaze’’ which would both act as evidence that their past behaviour had been deviant and produce rehabilitated subjects. Thus, here again, it is through bodily change that transformations in subjectivity are operated.

The urge to train and get better becomes embodied to the extent that athletes may sometimes be reluctant to stop training even after they have lost all hope of matching their peak capital as Wainwright and Turner (2003), noted of some ageing ballet dancers. In the process athletes also develop an instrumental relationship to their bodies, which is precisely what enables them to impose on their bodies the discipline and labour required to acquire and maintain capital. It is important to remember Turner’s (2003) analysis that the inherent ephemerality of bodily resources is lifelong and universal.

This implies that social actors do not have equal access to all social practices and life chances, or what Bourdieu (1979) calls “dispositions’’. Dispositions refer to internalised aspirations, governed by the statistical probability of being prone to particular types of action (or forms of improvisations) and of having particular tastes in accordance with Debates in the Sociology of the Body 29 one’s class position. In other words, dispositions are not distributed randomly across populations and individuals but according to wider power relations.

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