ERIC Number: EJ1051480
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Training the Body for Health"ism": Reifying "Vitality" in and through the Clinical Gaze of the Neoliberal Fitness Club
Wiest, Amber L.; Andrews, David L.; Giardina, Michael D.
Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies, v37 n1 p21-40 2015
In the last thirty years there has been a broad shift in ideas and practices concerning the individual's responsibility to pursue healthiness (in particular ways, with particular idealized outcomes). This is a result of the ''unwinding'' (Packer 2013) of the social welfare contract between governments and its citizens, and the concomitant rise of neoliberal practices and sensibilities. Such neoliberal logic--in which everyday life is positioned, if not increasingly defined, by a free market orientation--is manifested by, amongst other things, the commercial co-optation of ''healthiness,'' the responsibilization of health, and the marginalization of collective interests (Rose 1999a). It is by no means a new insight to suggest that discourses of health and healthiness have become embedded within the language and conditions of neo-liberalism (see Ingham 1985; Howell and Ingham 2001). However, what has not been investigated at length is the more intricate interconnection(s) between neo-liberalism, health, and (technologies of) fitness. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to explore these interconnections and to investigate the complexities and contradictions materialized in, and through, dominant ideas, institutionalizations, and practices pertaining to fitness and their relation to (public) health in the historical present. The authors contend that they cannot investigate such a shift (i.e., the responsibilization of health, conceivably, from a right to a duty) without examining the socialized and medicalized implications of what it means to be and look fit. For the relationship conjoining health and fitness is not given, but is a product of the historical and contextual forces that make fitness a necessary constituent of healthiness, and thereby a corroborating agent of biopolitical surveillance under neoliberalism. To this end, they posit that it is imperative to examine what health means to different people so that it can be better understood how various articulations of "healthy" (and "fit") manifest in ways that reproduce--or, conversely have the potential to challenge--social inequities and injustices.
Descriptors: Health Promotion, Health Behavior, Neoliberalism, Physical Fitness, Clubs, Social Influences, Physical Health, Social Justice, Wellness, Trainers, Cultural Influences, Exercise, Social Bias, Coaching (Performance)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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