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Unruly bodies and couples' sleep

Meadows, R, Arber, S, Venn, S and Hislop, J (2008) Unruly bodies and couples' sleep Body and Society, 14 (4). 75 - 91. ISSN 1357-034X

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Everyday social order is said to be based on appropriate bodily conduct. The emphasis on day raises at least two questions for the sociological study of sleep: the first concerns the existence of a ‘sleep habitus’ and whether sleeping bodies can ever be ‘unruly’. The second involves the possibilities for breaching or mediating any such ‘sleep habitus’. What we suggest here is that any ‘sleep habitus’ does appear to be limited. If a sleeper is considered to be ‘unconscious’, in a private space, and in an intimate relationship with his or her audience, bodies appear free to do anything without invoking the need for embarrassment. However, at the same time, couples do suggest that sleeping bodies can feel embarrassed, and thus can experience failed ‘impression management’. Gender and length of relationship appear important factors here. For example, as a relationship becomes ‘routinized’ couples learn to ‘fit together’, and to ‘mutually adapt’. Although, this fitting together negates the requirement for ‘private’ embarrassment, it may actually increase the likelihood that the private is ‘leaked’ into the public domain and thus, augment the possibilities for ‘reputational’ embarrassment.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences > Sociology
Authors :
Date : 2008
Identification Number : 10.1177/1357034X08096896
Related URLs :
Additional Information : This is an electronic version of an article published in Meadows R, Arber S, Venn S, Hislop J (2008). Unruly bodies and couples' sleep. Body and Society 14(4):75-91. Available online at:
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 10 May 2012 10:24
Last Modified : 23 Sep 2013 19:13

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