Journeys of Embodiment at the Intersection of Body and Culture

Journeys of Embodiment at the Intersection of Body and Culture

The Developmental Theory of Embodiment

1st Edition - September 15, 2017

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  • Author: Niva Piran
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128094211
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128054109

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Journeys of Embodiment at the Intersection of Body and Culture: The Developmental Theory of Embodiment describes an innovative developmental and feminist theory—understanding embodiment—to provide a new perspective on the interactions between the social environment of girls and young women of different social locations and their embodied experience of engagement with the world around them. The book proposes that the multitude of social experiences described by girls and women shape their body experiences via three core pathways: experiences in the physical domain, experiences in the mental domain and experiences related directly to social power. The book is structured around each developmental stage in the body journey of girls and young women, as influenced by their experience of embodiment. The theory builds on the emergent constructs of ‘embodiment’ and ‘body journey,’ and the key social experiences which shape embodiment throughout development and adolescence—from agency, functionality and passion during early childhood to restriction, shame and varied expressions of self-harm during and following puberty. By addressing not only adverse experiences at the intersection of gender, social class, ethnocultural grouping, resilience and facilitative social factors, the theory outlines constructive pathways toward transformation. It contends that both protective and risk factors are organized along these three pathways, with the positive and negative aspects conceptualized as Physical Freedom (vs. Corseting), Mental Freedom (vs. Corseting), and Social Power (vs. Disempowerment and Disconnection).

Key Features

  • Examines the construct of embodiment and its theoretical development
  • Explores the social experiences that shape girls throughout development
  • Recognizes the importance of the body and sexuality
  • Includes narratives by girls and young women on how they inhabit their bodies
  • Invites scholars and health professionals to critically reflect on the body journeys of diverse girls and women
  • Addresses the advancement of feminist, social critical and psychological theory, as well as implications to practice—both therapy and health promotion


Researchers and students in psychology, gender studies, sociology, anthropology, social critical theory, and mental health professionals

Table of Contents

  • 1. The Developmental Theory of Embodiment: Discovering Paths in Girls' and Women's Unchartered Body Journeys
    2. Qualified Freedom on Borrowed Territory: Early Childhood (to Age 8)
    3. Intense Transitions: Tweens (Ages 9-12)
    4. The Practice of Corseting: Early Adolescence (Ages 13-14)
    5. The "Perfection" of Corseting: Late Adolescence (Ages 15-18)
    6. Re-Capturing Qualified Freedom, Possibilities: Young Adulthood (Ages 19-30) and Beyond
    7. Charting a Different Future: Repossession of Bodies Appendix: Methodological Innovations and Implications for Future Research

Product details

  • No. of pages: 336
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2017
  • Published: September 15, 2017
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128094211
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128054109

About the Author

Niva Piran

Dr. Niva Piran is an award-winning author, researcher, teacher, and mentor. She is Professor Emerita at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist, and a school consultant. A Fellow of the American and Canadian Psychological Associations and the Academy of Eating Disorders, Dr. Piran developed and implemented the first day hospital program for eating disorders (in 1984) and spearheaded eating disorder prevention. She is a prolific scholar, an author and co-editor of 5 books, and a frequent international speaker on embodiment, body image, and eating disorder prevention and treatment. Her book, Journeys of Embodiment at the Intersection of Body and Culture: The Developmental Theory of Embodiment (2017) won a 2018 Association for Women in Psychology Distinguished Publication Award.

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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