What Is ‘Body Work’? A Review of the Literature

Debra Lynne Gimlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lyon and Barbalet (1994), Kang (2003), Wolkowitz (2002, 2006), and others have proposed the concept of ‘body work’ as a means for further developing the sociology of the body. This article gives an overview of the different (although frequently overlapping) forms of body work that have been identified in the sociological literature. These include a notion of body work as (i) the work performed on one's own body, (ii) paid labor carried out on the bodies of others, (iii) the management of embodied emotional experience and display, and (iv) the production or modification of bodies through work. The article concludes with suggestions for the future of research on body work and the sociology of the body.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-370
Number of pages18
JournalSociology Compass
Issue number1
Early online date22 Aug 2007
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007


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