Embodiment: a conceptual glossary for epidemiology
This article focuses on embodiment and how it is a very important concept that is pertinent to people’s everyday lives. The author states that embodiment can:
1) tell stories about the conditions of our existence 2) tell stories that often, but not always, match people’s stated accounts 3) and also tell stories that people cannot or will not tell
The author speaks of humans as social beings in a social context. Without this social context, the health of the individual cannot be properly evaluated. For example, the contending claims about racism compared to race, in the context of disease, shows that diseases cannot be properly evaluated without a view of embodiment. Without the social aspect of racism, people may pinpoint the cause of a certain health problem on an individual’s biological race, and not the social tension of racism that may have had an equally important impact on the individual’s health problem. Furthermore, in different cultures, there are different perceived waist to hip ratios, yet someone under the average in one culture may still be susceptible to a disease phenotype. Socially examining the reasons as to why one culture may have a larger waist to hip ratio requires the concept of embodiment, where it is not just biological differences, but also social phenomena that affect these traits. Also, embodiment of social conditions is also important because sometimes social conditions lead to biological phenotypes that are identified. Many species of fish and reptiles will display different character traits not based on their genes, but on the temperature of the environment.
Embodiment can also serve as a clue to life histories, hidden and revealed. Bodies can provide evidence that puts self report and other accounts into context.