Publication Details

This chapter was originally published as Wright, J, Poststructuralist methodologies - The body, schooling and health, in Evans, J, Davies, B & Wright, J (eds), Body Knowledge and Control. Studies in the Sociology of Physical Education and Health, Routledge, 2003, 34-59. Original book available here


Postmodernism and poststructuralism often appear to be used interchangeably in educational writing and research, with the term postmodernism more likely to be used in North America and poststructuralism more likely to be used by those following a European tradition of philosophy and social analysis (Scheurich 1997). There are arguably, however, differences that go beyond terminology. The latter position tends to draw on the work of Foucault and Derrida, the former on the work of Lyotard. Different questions are raised and considered by each. What they share is 'the need to problematise systems of thought and organisation' (Usher and Edwards 1994: 1) and fixed notions of identity or social relations. In addition, the term postmodernity is also used globally to describe a period which some suggest has already passed and others, has yet to arrive (Giddens 1991; Kirk 1997). This chapter is not so much concerned with the debates about terminology or about postmodernity as a period. It looks at how poststructuralist theory can help to understand the relationship between the self and the social and, specifically for the purposes of this book, how the embodied self is socially constituted in relation to social institutions and discourses associated with health and physical education.

Included in

Education Commons