Your Mini-Sociology Lesson on Body Justice

If you’re looking for justice for your body, you might be confused or not care about how sociology relates, but stick with me. It’s the foundation of all things body justice.

Your Body and Sociology

As you probably know (but I never assume), sociology is the study of how external forces influence our behavior. It runs parallel (and often perpendicular) to psychology, which examines internal behavioral influences. That aside, sociology analyzes large social structures like religion and politics as well as small groups like our peers and relationships. Both large structures and small groups influence how we see things and how we behave. Especially in America, we like to think we’re individuals with uninfluenced free will. This, however, is not the case. Just think of the last time you quoted a movie, show, or song.

Exactly.

The priest from The Princess Bride saying, "Mawwiage."
The Princess Bride references FTW. Source: http://gph.is/2ge45zr

The U.S. and Sociology and Health

Now, if structures like religion, politics, education, business, and so on influence our thinking and behavior, that includes our bodies. Public health is a thing. It’s the reason the CDC, AMA, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services exist. There’s no shortage of organizations and governments working with human bodies. These groups guide health with recommendations and limitations. They shape laws, public opinion, media stories, which means they also shape thinking and behavior. They are our overlords, like it or not.

Kent Brockman from The Simpsons saying, "And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords."
My references are always dated because I’m old. Source: http://gph.is/1Nm2LaB

Example: Oh, It’s Still a Pandemic

Case in point: COVID-19. We relied on social health structures to inform, protect, and help us. We’re depending upon the social structures of public health to work together to distribute the vaccine. Some of us are vaccinated, some aren’t, some hope to be, some don’t.

Need a visual of how this flows throughout our society? Here you are!

Macro to Micro: How Large Social Structures Influence Behavior. 1: Society: A public health problem like an infectious disease arises uncontrolled in society. 2: Large social structures: Public health organizations, the government, and the medical industry study the disease, then share information to control the spread. 3: Small groups: Social structures inform small groups on social behavioral changes like wearing masks. 4: Individuals: Small groups encourage individuals to change behaviors like "wear a mask." 5: Social change: "If enough individual behavior changes, the spread of the disease slows."
Years of study paying off in this graphic. Source: Me.

This whole flow is called the macrosociology-microsociology link, which is a fancy way of saying large structures and small groups and individuals influence one another (despite the arrows on the graphic, this flow does go both directions). Neat, huh? It’s proof that we influence society, and society influences us. And yes, if you want to make butterfly effect references, feel free. That’s right on target.

But of course, there will always be a group of people who are unwilling (and some unable) to follow social recommendations. That said, their thinking and behavior changes as well. They go from not talking about something like COVID-19 to talking about it to actively opposing the recommendations. Sometimes, they protest. In this case, some protest, specifically, the right to make choices for their own bodies.

Sound familiar?

So, What?

What’s this mean for body justice? It means bodies have social power. Large social structures cannot operate without power, and they know our bodies have power, so they try to control that power. However, because our bodies are ours, that means WE have the power. And tomorrow, I’ll get into your body’s power, how you can use it, and how you can stop others from using it without your permission.

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