Theorizing physical activity health promotion: towards an Eliasian framework for the analysis of health and medicine

2019-03-22T08:48:51Z (GMT) by Kass Gibson Dominic Malcolm
This article seeks to advance our understanding of the convergence of physical activity and public health through a novel theorization drawing upon, applying and developing figurational sociological principles of Norbert Elias. More specifically, we focus on four core aspects of Elias’ theoretical corpus: interdependencies; forethought (as an aspect of civilizing processes); the interaction of “fact” and emotion in socially determining knowledge; and finally, the hinge. As such, we argue that contemporary interest in physical activity health promotion can be attributed to the amalgamation of distinctive figurations of interdependency ties; an associated development in the internalization of human self-control; conceptions of ‘truth’, which derive from a combination of scientific evidence, ideological desires and the gratification brought from the ‘holding’ of such beliefs; and the intersection of social and biological processes on the human body. This paper advances existing figurationally informed theoretical analyses of health and medicine, in highlighting the essential interconnectivity of Elias’s key ideas. This approach is, in turn, more faithful to Elias’ advocacy of a radically relational sociological perspective. The result is both an original conceptualization of this increasingly significant social phenomenon, and a more explicit elucidation of the distinctive Eliasian framework through which future theoretically informed empirical research into contemporary health and medicine can be developed.