Intense Embodiment: Senses of Heat in Women’s Running and Boxing

Body and Society 21 (2):245-268 (2015)
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In recent years, calls have been made to address the relative dearth of qualitative sociological investigation into the sensory dimensions of embodiment, including within physical cultures. This article contributes to a small, innovative and developing literature utilizing sociological phenomenology to examine sensuous embodiment. Drawing upon data from three research projects, here we explore some of the ‘sensuousities’ of ‘intense embodiment’ experiences as a distance-running-woman and a boxing-woman, respectively. Our analysis addresses the relatively unexplored haptic senses, particularly the ‘touch’ of heat. Heat has been argued to constitute a specific sensory mode, a trans-boundary sense. Our findings suggest that ‘lived’ heat, in our own physical-cultural experiences, has highly proprioceptive elements and is experienced as both a form of touch and as a distinct perceptual mode, dependent upon context. Our analysis coheres around two key themes that emerged as salient: (1) warming up, and (2) thermoregulation, which in lived experience were encountered as strongly interwoven.

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Author Profiles

Helen Owton
Open University (UK)