Intense embodiment: senses of heat in women’s running and boxing

Allen-Collinson, Jacquelyn and Owton, Helen (2015). Intense embodiment: senses of heat in women’s running and boxing. Body & Society, 21(2) pp. 245–268.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1357034X14538849

Abstract

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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