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Operating (on) the self: transforming agency through obesity surgery and treatment
Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. (Science, Technology and Valuation Practices)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8319-0975
2018 (English)In: Sociology of Health and Illness, ISSN 0141-9889, E-ISSN 1467-9566, Vol. 40, no 3, p. 508-522Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, I describe the processes through which patients diagnosed with 'morbid obesity' become active subjects through undergoing obesity surgery and an empowerment lifestyle programme in a Dutch obesity clinic. Following work in actor-network theory and material semiotics that complicates the distinction between active and passive subjects, I trace how agency is configured and re-distributed throughout the treatment trajectory. In the clinic's elaborate care assemblage - consisting of dieticians, exercise coaches and psychologists - the person is not only actively involved in his/her own change, the subject of intervention is the self as 'actor': his/her material constitution, inclinations and feelings. The empirical examples reveal that a self becomes capable of self-care only after a costly and laborious conditioning through which patients are completely transformed. In this work, the changed body, implying a new, potentially disruptive reality that patients must learn to cope with, is pivotal to what the patient can do and become. Rather than striving to be disembodied, self-contained liberal subjects that make sensible decisions for their body, patients become empowered through submission and attachment and by arranging support.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Inc., 2018. Vol. 40, no 3, p. 508-522
Keywords [en]
actor network theory, embodiment, obesity, self-help/care, subjectivity, surgeons/surgery
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-147690DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.12654ISI: 000428466800009PubMedID: 29235133Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85044413288OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-147690DiVA, id: diva2:1204049
Note

Funding Agencies|ERC [249397]

Available from: 2018-05-06 Created: 2018-05-06 Last updated: 2019-12-04Bibliographically approved

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Vogel, Else

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • oxford
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf