Pricing Bodies: A Feminist New Materialist Approach to the Relations Between the Economic and Socio-Cultural

Coleman, Rebecca. 2018. Pricing Bodies: A Feminist New Materialist Approach to the Relations Between the Economic and Socio-Cultural. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 19(2), pp. 230-248. ISSN 1600-910X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Arguments that the economic and socio-cultural should be understood as relational and intertwined, and that price involves a reciprocal relationship between the economic and socio-cultural, are increasingly prevalent in the social sciences. I develop these notions of relationality and reciprocation through a feminist new materialist perspective, which emphasises the entanglement of and intra-action between what might usually be seen as independent and autonomous entities. To do this, I focus on a range of recent body-image initiatives, led by government, corporate and non-profit organisations, which aim to improve girls’ and young women’s levels of confidence and self-esteem. I explore how feminist theory tends to see such initiatives in terms of the expansion of the economic sphere into the socio-cultural, which involves a tainting or contamination of embodiment and feeling. Rather than dispute these arguments, I take seriously theories and practices from cultural economy that see the economic and socio-cultural as co-constitutive. I augment these ideas with a feminist new materialist approach and argue that the economic and socio-cultural are in intra-active relations: they do not precede or exist apart from each other. In doing so, I consider how body-image initiatives can be understood as phenomena produced through these entangled intra-active relations, and offer an understanding of pricing as a simultaneously socio-cultural and economic process, where value and values become. I also raise questions regarding how, ethically and politically, boundary making and unmaking can be conceived, and how despite being in entangled relations, asymmetries between economic and socio-cultural relations may be approached.

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body-image; ethics; entanglement; feminist new materialisms; phenomena; price; pricing

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26 June 2018Accepted
29 August 2018Published

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Date Deposited:

27 Jun 2018 14:12

Last Modified:

28 Feb 2020 02:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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