Dirty scholarship and dirty lives: explorations in bodies and belonging

Pickering, L. and Wiseman, P. (2019) Dirty scholarship and dirty lives: explorations in bodies and belonging. Sociological Review, 67(4), pp. 746-765. (doi: 10.1177/0038026119854244)

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What is dirt, and how is it used in processes of Othering? This is the central theme of this opening, introductory chapter. The chapter brings together a number of theoretical approaches to dirt. In exploring the central role of dirt and dirt management to the civilising process, we (re)produce a particular sort of history of European relations with dirt – a history characterised as much by dirt as a site of distinction as by an apparent increasing aversion to the dirt of bodily exuviae. By bringing this into dialogue with a second sort of history of European relations with dirt, characterised by shifting ideas about illness and contagion, we explore the kinds of work that discourses about dirt do. Viewed together, it becomes clear that central to both histories are processes of Othering – of the dirty by those who define the dirty. This links to the third theme of the introduction which explores specifically symbolic dimensions of dirt, drawing Douglas’s idea of dirt as ‘matter out of place’ into dialogue with Kristeva’s idea of the abject. In layering a discussion of dirt as abjection upon dirt as distinction we come back to contagion, and the power of (re)producing self/other boundaries through dirt. Together, these tell a story of dirt as a site of power, and a tool used by those who define the dirty to oppress those they consider unclean.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Special issue 'Down the Pan: New Directions in the Sociology of Dirt' co-edited by Lucy Pickering and Phillippa Wiseman
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pickering, Dr Lucy and Wiseman, Dr Phillippa
Authors: Pickering, L., and Wiseman, P.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Sociological Review
ISSN (Online):1467-954X
Published Online:12 July 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © The Authors 2019
First Published:First published in Sociological Review 67(4):746-765
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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