The aim of this article is to define the status and scope of research topics pursued by the sociology of the body as a new research area within the sociology of medicine. The authors describe its relations with the achievement of sociology as such. The sociology of the body continues research trends in sociology, which considered biological elements as significant variables for the explanation of social processes and phenomena (bioorganicism, racial-anthropological direction, socio-biology). However, the most important is the problem of the sociology of the body presented by Sarah Nettelton in her classical work of 1996 'The Sociology of Health and Illness'. Three main research trends have been discussed - naturalistic, social constructivism and phenomenological. An attempt at synthesising these trends has been made. The authors have discussed the ideas of Chris Shilling on the individual and social creation of body projects and those of Bryan S. Turner, who focuses on the modern mechanisms, which control the bodies through different social institutions. The concept of 'biopower', created by Michel Foucault, and the concept of the body subjected to the processes of the civilizationally variable socialisation advocated by Norbert Elias have also been discussed. The article also discusses Pierre Bourdieu's approach, who described the body as the physical capital, and some feminist theories, which have contributed to the conceptualisation of the problems of the sociology of the body. The research trends discussed in the article are also important for the sociology of health and illness because they pertain to the relations existing between the body (irrespective of its health condition) and social conditions. The article also touches upon some ideas related to the sociology of the body in Polish sociomedical research, which are discussed on the basis of some selected concepts.
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