Vital Bodies: A Visual Sociology of Health and Illness in Everyday Life

Bates, Charlotte. 2011. Vital Bodies: A Visual Sociology of Health and Illness in Everyday Life. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis addresses theoretical and methodological concerns to embody sociology. It offers an account of the body, health and illness in everyday life that uses a sensorially attentive research practice to take the body seriously and make it audibly, visibly and viscerally present. The thesis is based on empirical research conducted over a year using a multi-method approach to unlock everyday bodily experiences. Thirteen participants aged between twenty-three and forty-three were interviewed about their experiences of living with a long-term physical or mental health condition (asthma, bi-polar disorder, chronic pain, depression, type 1 diabetes, epilepsy, joint hypermobility syndrome, muscular dystrophy, and rheumatoid arthritis) and asked to make a video diary and/or keep a journal to show and tell about their body and their condition. In addition Polaroids and hand-drawn questionnaires were used to add dimensionality. The accounts that were made are presented in this written thesis and in the film that accompanies this text, with the aim of conveying a sociological analysis of illness that keeps the vitality of bodies alive. In doing so, the thesis offers an account of illness that is not based on anguish, isolation and powerlessness but on the embodied activity of living.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


sociology, illness, body, health

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



5 January 2011

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Jan 2012 09:19

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 13:42


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