Chouinard, James Babson (2013-05). Social Structure as an Embodied Experience. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • An overarching goal of my dissertation is to delineate social systemic processes as first and foremost embodied, experiential processes. I argue that such processes manifest through and depend upon the organism's affective integration with her environment. Whereby, I delineate concepts like alienation and agency as manifesting through an affective intelligibility. Symbolic alienation, then, represents a circumstance in which institutional narratives purport moral or aesthetic truths that denigrate and deny the organism's affective understanding of a circumstance. Agentic growth refers to the organism's affective adaptation to an environment. Such growth follows from the process of working through experiential discordance (i.e., the disturbance of experiential flow or continuity) and manifests as a new-found sense of trust and understanding. Experiential discordance is an unavoidable occurrence because the organism-environment relationship is a dynamic one. If the organism is unable to mitigate and repair such discordance, she will face the threat of traumatization. Furthermore, those who disrupt the conventional-institutional organization or channeling of experience take on the character of dirt and thereby represent a dirty Other. If institutions react to the troubling, dirty Other by means of systemic repression, rather than genuine communication and reintegration, then said dirty Other takes on the character of shit. In such a circumstance, the presence of the dirty Other likely reveals deep, social systemic inadequacies and thereby ruptures the collective's existential confidence and praxeological competence.

publication date

  • May 2013