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Session: 2022/23

Last modified: 04/07/2022 11:45:23

Title of Module: The Embodiment of Social Inequality

Code: SOCY10021 SCQF Level: 10
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 20 ECTS: 10
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Education & Social Sciences
Module Co-ordinator:I  Rafanell

Summary of Module

This module introduces the main theories of social constructionism by critically examining debates around the sociological understanding of the formation of human bodies and the embodiment of political/power dynamics of inequality. The focus is both theoretical and substantive. It provides ample historical and anthropological scholarship in order to highlight the conventional nature of knowledge and practices around the body. The embodiment of gender and class inequalities are key to the theoretical and empirical material presented.

Each session focuses on paradigmatic theoretical approaches as well as substantive key illustrative themes:

  • Historical research on changing scientific knowledge of the human body
  • Anthropological research on the conventional nature of embodied practices and identities.
  • Key symbolic interactionist scholarship highlighting the central role of the body in organising social interaction and social order.
  • The embodiment of class inequality: Bourdieu, the body and symbolic power.
  • Bio-Power: Foucault and a theory of productive power in relation to the formation of bodies and subjectivities.
  • Performativity and the construction of bodies as a power operation: Butler.
  • Embodiment of gender inequality in sports.

It encourages students to critical analysis and self-reflexivity; to challenge/unpack taken for granted assumptions about biological bases of identities; social phenomena, inter-subjective relationships, and to understand the body as central to power dynamics/social inequality.

The module is interdisciplinary in that it draws from research and knowledge from Anthropology, History, Sociology and Social Policy. It is global in nature by providing research and case studies of an international dimension.

Key substantive issues of sociological significance presented:

  • Debate nature/nurture

  • Dichotomy structure/agency; social phenomena/individual practice

  • Sociology of emotions and their constitutive role

  • Sociology of health/medicalization of bodies

  • Deconstruction of the gender binary

  • Challenging biological essentialist positions: absolutism versus contextual relativism

  • Media’s role in the construction of detrimental and harmful stereotyping standards

Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully OnlineHybridCHybridOWork-based Learning
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Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

Online with mandatory face-to-face learning on Campus

Online with optional face-to-face learning on Campus

Work-based Learning
Learning activities where the main location for the learning experience is in the workplace.

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:
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Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1


Term 2check markTerm 3


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Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Critically examine and evaluate a range of theoretical perspectives on the social construction of human bodies and the nature/society debate.

L2. Engage in constructive critical appraisal of the major theoretical traditions within sociological thought in relation to power dynamics and the embodiment of social practices.

L3. Critically assess, in the light of these theories, the effects and assumptions about embodied identities (class and gendered bodies) within specific areas of social life and case studies.

L4. Demonstrate the critical skill of a sociological imagination by connecting apparently impersonal theoretical analysis to aspects of personal life by gaining analytical familiarity into the individual /society dichotomy.

L5. Demonstrate the capacity and skills to explore, in written work, group discussion and oral presentation the relationship between theoretical analysis and substantive issues.

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 10.

Understanding current narratives of the nature/culture debate in relation to the socially constructed and conventional nature of the human body in particular in terms of class and gender identity.

Understanding of the emergence of anti-essentialist approaches and the development of awareness of the social construction of embodied identities and practices.

Awareness and understanding of the impact of the analysis of the materiality of the body on social policies aimed at minimizing social inequality.

Evaluating the scope and usefulness of different analytical perspectives around the body and their explanation of individual and collective behaviour in contemporary society.
Appreciate the scope of the cross-cultural variation existing vis a vis knowledge about the body and embodied practice.

Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding SCQF Level 10.

Interpreting, explaining, critically analyse and debate complex theoretical terms and ideas.

Developing and presenting a coherent analysis of the arguments, explanations and prescriptions of major sociological views of issues relevant to many areas of social policy and teaching practices.

Retrieving, interpreting and manipulating primary and secondary information from a variety of sources including electronic sources.

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 10.

Giving coherent and reasoned arguments and opinions, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of different substantive topics and theoretical analysis.

Evaluate, criticize and debate, in oral and written form, specific theoretical position and analytical arguments relevant to the discipline.

Become familiar with, adopt and use academic and conceptual terminology useful and transferable to a variety of different academic disciplines and professional areas.

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 10.

Communicating effectively and appropriately orally and in writing.

Interpreting complex theoretical and empirical data and material.

To present documents in an appropriate form.

Develop skills on relevant computer, digital and online resources.

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 10.

Developing an independent capacity of learning and a reflexive understanding of their own learning and different methodological and analytical skills.

Retrieving information from library resources, electronic resources and tutoring facilities.

Developing an independent responsibility for personal time-management, learning needs and dynamics, addressing their own needs and strengths and demanding support when necessary.

Working effectively in groups or teams, developing an awareness of the importance of mutual support, communication and cooperation with others.

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

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Learning and Teaching
Student contact will primarily take place through a series of lectures and tutorials. A key focus will be placed on the encouragement of students to develop reading, writing and analytical skills through engagement with a variety of sources and academic texts relating to the sociological study of the body. These skills will be developed through the research for and production of the written work required for the essay and exam assessments. There will be a requirement for independent study in terms of seminar preparation and assessment, research and production; this is identified in the suggested notional hours attached. The production of an essay will enable students to enhance and demonstrate their skills in research, writing and referencing and develop their potential to work autonomously. It will also develop students’ approach to research, preparation and production of reasoned argument.

The production of an essay will enable students to enhance and demonstrate their skills in research, writing and referencing and develop their potential to work autonomously. The exam will develop students’ approach to research, preparation and production of reasoned argument and develop the skill of developing a pool of knowledge for future academic engagement.

This module is supported by a highly developed blended teaching approach using both face to face contact teaching and a highly-developed online Virtual Learning Environment based on the web based platform Moodle.

This module supports the development and achievement of graduate attributes, employability, transferable skills and lifelong learning and citizenship competencies by:

-Providing opportunities for students to develop imaginative and critical thinking and problem solving.
-Providing the bases to becoming an active global citizen by exploring contemporary research areas.
-Encouraging students to develop creative and enterprising team player and group working capabilities.
-Encourage an engaged and participative team member by collaborative activities and collective debate and communicate knowledge to the public.
-Providing students to develop interpersonal skills of responsibility and sensitivity and personal reflexivity.
Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery20
Tutorial/Synchronous Support Activity6
Independent Study174
200 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

Crossley, N. (2006) Reflexive Embodiment in Contemporary Society. London: Open University Press

Demello, M. (2014) Body Studies. An Introduction. New York: Routledge

Howson, A. (2003) The Body in Society. An introduction. Polity Press. Cambridge. UK

Petersen, A. (2007) The Body in Question. A Socio-Cultural Approach. London: Routledge.

Turner, Brian (2008) The Body and Society: Explorations in Social Theory. London: Sage

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Engagement Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on the relevant learning platform, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement procedure

Where a module has Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body requirements these will be listed here:
All full-time students (part-time students and distant learning students should check with their programme leader for any queries) are required to attend all scheduled classes and participate with all delivered elements of the module as part of their engagement with their programme of study. Consideration will be given to students who have protection under the appropriate equality law. Please refer to UWS Regulations, Chapter 1, 1.64 – 1.67, available at the following link:

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Supplemental Information

Programme BoardSocial Sciences
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelUG Social Sciences - Sociology & Social Policy
ModeratorC Maclean
External ExaminerR Ryder
Accreditation DetailsN/A
Version Number


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Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
Refective Essay (30%)
Open Book Exam (70%)
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Learning Outcome (5) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Essaycheck markcheck markcheck markcheck markcheck mark300

Component 2
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Learning Outcome (5) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Unseen open bookcheck markcheck markcheck markcheck markcheck mark700
Combined Total For All Components100% 0 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

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  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
Aligned with the overall commitment to equality and diversity stated in the Programme Specifications, the module supports equality of opportunity for students from all backgrounds and with different learning needs. Using Moodle, learning materials will be presented electronically in formats that allow flexible access and manipulation of content (part-time and distant learning students should check with their programme leader for any queries). The module complies with University regulations and guidance on inclusive learning and teaching practice. Specialist assistive equipment, support provision and adjustment to assessment practice will be made in accordance with UWS policy and regulations. The University’s Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Policy can be accessed at the following link:

Our partners are fully committed to the principles and practice of inclusiveness and our modules are designed to be accessible to all. Where this module is delivered overseas, local equivalent support for students and appropriate legislation applies.

UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)

2014 University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity.

Charity number SC002520.