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According to Davis, issues around the control of women’s health and bodily processes were important catalysts for the development of insights which attempted to wrench control of women’s lives away from patriarchal structures and return it to women. An important strand of scholarship is that which is focused on the medicalisation of women’s bodies. Women’s bodies were constructed as inherently problematic and therefore reappropriated by biomedicine. The list of bodily processes which have come under the gaze of the medical profession is long: the menopause (Greer 1991), reproduction (Martin 1992), cervical screening (Howson 1998, 1999), and more recently fertility treatments.

But we could also conceive of situations 26 Ageing, the Body and Social Change where groups of social actors or subjects would, through particular bodily acts, challenge their subjectification and work towards the fashioning of alternative modes of being, putting pressure on dominant structures. This observation has given rise to a debate about alternative ways in which the body should be apprehended, both theoretically and empirically. In fact it could be argued that debates in the current sociology of the body are about bodies, the role they play in the sociological imagination (Mills 1959), that is how they contribute to shaping the social.

However, the willingness to do body work and the potential for conversion into other forms of capital is itself a situated disposition. The field of sport is one arena in which the body is brought into play and in which the struggle for domination takes place. In the field of sport it is the legitimate use of the body and the production of the legitimate body (corps légitime) which is at stake (Bourdieu 1984: 181). The literature has been somewhat critical of Bourdieu’s theory of social action, a critique which I would like to address now.

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