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Understanding the Socialized Body: A Poststructuralist Analysis of Consumers' Self-Conceptions, Body Images, and Self-Care Practices


  • Thompson, Craig J
  • Hirschman, Elizabeth C


The present inquiry examines the psychosocial meanings and processes that shape consumers' sense of body image and the consumption behaviors motivated by those perceptions. Poststructuralist interpretive procedures were used to analyze interviews with 30 male and female consumers, aged 6-54. This discourse analysis led to the development of three process-oriented themes: (1) the ideology of self-control, (2) the social processes of normalization and problematization, and (3) the operation of the disciplinary gaze. The systematic manifestations of these themes are illustrated across a range of consumer experiences and body-focused perceptions, implications of these themes for the theoretical conceptualizations of body image and the nature of self-concept in contemporary consumer culture are discussed. Copyright 1995 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Thompson, Craig J & Hirschman, Elizabeth C, 1995. "Understanding the Socialized Body: A Poststructuralist Analysis of Consumers' Self-Conceptions, Body Images, and Self-Care Practices," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 139-153, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jconrs:v:22:y:1995:i:2:p:139-53
    DOI: 10.1086/209441

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