Module SXH-3010:
The Addicted Body

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Paul Carre

Overall aims and purpose

This module introduces a number of concepts and ideas which provide theoretical frameworks for conceptualising and understanding the body and the social context of addiction. It centres on the relationship between the individual, the state and society with key theoretical themes of stigma, labelling, habitus and biopower at its heart. Various addictions and associated causal and correlated variables will be studied, along with systems and processes that regulate, punish, rehabilitate or control the body. Offenders, dual-diagnosed mental health service users and other social actors will be the focus of the programme, which moves from macro-structural to micro perspectives.

Physical dependency, psychological dependency and socio-behavioural responses all create routines, belief systems and symbolic meanings. This suggests that a disordered sense of self and a lessened ability to regulate self-esteem, emotional balance, and relationships might lead to social anomie; ultimately, perhaps, leading to a self-destructive end. This idea will be contextualised within health, criminal justice and other social settings in which addicted bodies are regulated and disciplined.

This module explores a range of concepts and ideas from several key theorists but draws notably on the works of Michel Foucault. An exploration of the addicted body will introduce his writings on the ‘Mad’ body, the ‘Medical’ body, the ‘Sexual’ body, and the ‘Docile’ body. The role of discourse will thus be critically analysed in order to determine the power relationships between these bodies and society’s norms. This is a key aspect of understanding the needs of groups – variously labelled as vulnerable, dangerous, immoral, hopeless and burdensome – and how these groups interact with state and societal processes of power, and governmentality.

Concepts of embodiment and corporeality are explored, as are questions relating to the body as physical capital, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bodies and the consideration of the social location of the addicted body. These studies will be located globally as well as in UK society, in order to establish formative historical, cultural and ethnological influences.

The module will be delivered through a combined lecture and seminar session using a variety of teaching and learning strategies such as formal lectures, student led discussions and the use of visual material. The research and professional knowledge of the School staff will also be embedded in the programme to add depth, expertise, critical analysis and contemporary research data. The focus is, therefore, on interactive student participation, making use of contemporary examples, issues and personal experiences, in order to develop a dynamic peer-assisted learning environment.

There is an equivalent Welsh Medium module - SCH3010 Y Corff Caeth. Students therefore have the choice of studying these topics and perspectives in both Welsh and English.

Course content

• The Social Construction of the Body • The Body and the Senses: Lived experiences and the body schema • The Psychodynamics of Addictions • Addiction & Recovery: Concepts and Approaches • Social Dynamics & Associated Behaviours • Stigma, Identity & Labelling • Governmentality & Biopower

Assessment Criteria


• Display a reflexive approach to empathising with, and understanding, the nature of disability, sexuality, culture, identity, stigma and mental illness in constructing a discourse on addiction and society; • Present a sound working knowledge of one or more sophisticated sociological concepts, such as habitus, ethnomethodology, phenomenology, in the analysis of the social nature of an addiction; • Employ a range of qualitative sources to describe, and comment on, the lived experiences of individuals with complex, severe and enduring addictions.


• Apply prior knowledge of sociological theory to the examination of addiction; • Identify the contribution of a particular approach to the study of addicted bodies in society, demonstrating critical awareness of key sociological theories of the body; • Communicate an argument clearly in essay format, using appropriate standards of referencing and employing a diverse, scholarly range of sources to support the discussion.


• Critically evaluate the role of social variables in the analysis of addiction, identifying patterns of power inherent within visible role relationships; • Choose a key concept or theory and apply it to critically examine a contemporary addiction, utilising its theoretical position to offer a critical analysis of the subject; • Demonstrate a wide, and deep, range of reading in the presentation of informed ideas about the nature of addiction from body-society dispositions;

Learning outcomes

  1. Use an appropriate sociological theoretical perspective to describe the relationship between an addicted body and wider society.

  2. Identify and evaluate how social bodies are governed, regulated and disciplined by the concept of biopower.

  3. Critically evaluate the main conceptual approaches concerned with addiction and their influence on policies and attitudes towards addicted individuals in society.

  4. Demonstrate an appreciation of how studies of the body have been incorporated into sociological analysis, within health and criminological contexts.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

The second assignment is to choose a key concept or theory studied during the course of the module and to apply it to the examination of a contemporary issue relating to the body and addiction, in a discursive essay.

Concepts and topics should be agreed by the tutor but this assignment is intended to enable students to further their own knowledge of subjects that have wider resonance with their academic, personal or professional interests.

This task should be produced in a 3,000 word essay format, using appropriately sophisticated standards of referencing and citation, and employing a diverse, scholarly range of sources. The first assignment - Presentation Proposal - sets out the themes and perspectives for this essay to explore fully and so students will have received constructive feedback on their ideas before wrinting the essay.

Suitable matches of topics and concepts might be, for example, as follows:

• A biopsychosocial framework for understanding eating disorders; • The “spoiled identity” of the drug addict. • A phenomenological body schema perspective on motility, the body and exercise addiction; • Habitus and Internet Addiction.


As part of working towards Assignment 2 - the Essay - this assignment combines a proposal with a summary presentation which describes an addiction and also identifies a suitable theoretical perspective by which to understand the social nature of the addiction and associated behaviours.

Students will submit a set of slides which present key themes or contexts relevant to the their chosen addiction topic. These slides will also define and explain a sociological theory and the reasons for its particular value in the study of the addiction. These slides will consist of a maximum of 1,500 words of text but should also include images, or visual data, to add context and clarity.

The presentation will be submitted electronically only, via Turnitin; marking and feedback will be online. Students do not have to give the presentation in person; the assignment is designed to plan and critique the background and rationale for the essay.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 176

Combined Lecture/Seminar sessions: 2 hrs per week x 12 weeks = 24 hours.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: