Education, Disordered Eating and Obesity Discourse: Fat Fabrications (2008) 

 By John Evans, Emma Rich, Brian Davies and Rachel Allwood


Eating less, exercising more and losing weight seem the obvious solution for the oncoming ‘obesity epidemic’. Rarely, however, is thought given to how these messages are interpreted and whether they are in fact inherently healthy.

Education, Disordered Eating and Obesity Discourse investigates how ‘body centred talk’ about weight, fat, food and exercise is recycled in schools, enters educational processes, and impacts on the identities and health of young people. Drawing on the experiences of young women who have developed eating disorders and research on international school curricula and the media, the authors challenge the veracity, substance and merits of contemporary ‘obesity discourse’. By concentrating on previously unexplored aspects of the debate around weight and health, it is revealed how well-meaning advice can propel some children toward behaviour that seriously damages their health.

This book is not only about ‘eating disorders’ and the people affected, but the effects of obesity discourse on everyone’s health as it enters public policy, educational practice and the cultural fabric of our lives. It will interest students, teachers, doctors, health professionals and researchers concerned with obesity and weight issues.


“This book is a welcome contribution to the sociology of education and to the literature on ‘disordered eating’. It captures in graphic terms the experiences of a group of mainly middle class young women diagnosed as ‘having an eating disorder’ and offers a compelling conceptualisation of the inter-play of ‘perfection codes’ and ‘performance codes’ in their lives.” Geoff Whitty, Director, Institute of Education, London

“But they do not just employ critique, a criticism often made about critical theory a position taken in the book. They offer potential answers in the form of alternative pedagogies to rethink health and a challenge to health education that will shake some of the foundations of what it means to ‘do’ health*the corporeal processes as indicators of social reproduction and change (Shilling, 2008)”  Lisa Hunter, Sport, Education and Society (2010)

“John Evans, Emma Rich, BrianDavies, and Rachel Allwood’s book, Education, Disordered Eating and Obesity Discourses: Fat Fabrications is a radical critique of contemporary obesity discourses and the school health policies and practices that these discourses inform… Education, Disordered Eating and Obesity Discourse makes a compelling and important argument, one that is rich with theoretical insight and advances the scholarship in the field of sociology of education as well as educational policy studies.” Carlolyn Vander Schee, Educational Studies (2010)


The Medicalization of Cyberspace (2008)

By Andy Miah and Emma Rich


The entire infrastructure and culture of medicine is being transformed by digital technology, the Internet and mobile devices. Cyberspace is now regularly used to provide medical advice and medication, with great numbers of sufferers immersing themselves within virtual communities. What are the implications of this medicalisation of cyberspace for how people make sense of health and identity?

The Medicalisation of Cyberspace is the first book to explore the relationship between digital culture and medical sociology. It examines how technology is redefining expectations of and relationships with medical culture, addressing the following questions:
• How will the rise of digital communities affect traditional notions of medical expertise?
• What will the medicalisation of cyberspace mean in a new era of posthuman enhancements?
• How should we regard hype and exaggeration about science in the media and how can this encourage public engagement with bioethics?

This book looks at the complex interactions between health, medicalisation, cyberculture, the body and identity. It addresses topical issues, such as medical governance, reproductive rights, eating disorders, Web 2.0, and perspectives on posthumanism. It is essential reading for healthcare professionals and social, philosophical and cultural theorists of health.


“The Medicalization of Cyberspace is a compelling and comprehensive consideration of how the Internet and web are impacting medical practice, communication between experts and patients, the construction of the posthuman body, and many other pressing issues. In clear and precise prose, it consistently avoids the binary rhetoric all too prevalent in discussions about cyberspace and explores the complex interactions currently taking place between and around medical practices and the web. Highly recommended for anyone interested in how the digital cultures of cyberspace are shaping the practice, understanding, and consumption of medicine in the contemporary period.”
N. Katherine Hayles, UCLA, Author of ‘How We Became Posthuman’

Book Reviews in:

“the richness of the topics treated by Miah and Rich is a reflection of the sheer range they cover, and the variety of the conceptual approaches they discuss. While they do not make one ‘big claim’ into which all of the contents of the book is contextualized, they emphasize different themes and aspects with multi-faceted nuances.
Sara Rubinelli, Body & Society (2009)

Andy Miah and Emma Rich have written an insightful and provocative book about cybermedicine, the varieties of knowledge, experience and practice emerging at the intersection of health information and the Web.
Lisa M. Mitchell, Surveillance and Society (2009)

For anyone who wants to explore the question of whether digital technology poses particular novel ethical problems, in relation, say, to human reproduction and genetic enhancement, this book is invaluable
Hugh McLachlan, Genetic Ethics (2009)

[The Medicalization of Cyberspace] benefits from a wealth of theoretical and empirical work that provides a starting point for understanding the medicalization of cyberspace. The authors have provided a foundation  on which future scholars can explore in more detail the ways in which cyberspace is influencing discourse and action in a range of areas related to bodies and health, even when they exist in the disembodied realm of cyberspace.
Sally J. McMillan, New Media & Society (2008)

“there are many aspects of Medicalization of Cyberspace for those interested in the exploration of health and social aspects of cyberspace. This book is a great place to start, explore and really get a feel for what more there is to learn and discover in regards to our changing environments, virtual selves and cyberspacial interactions with the world medically, culturally and socially around us.”
Kristi Scott, Studies in Ethics, Law and Technology (2008)

Andy miah and Emma Rich have extracted from cyberspace fascinating narratives about topics such as the persistent sexual arousal syndrome, the Visual Human Project, the controversy about an online auction for a human kidney….We had better listen, too.” Edward W. Campion, MD, New England Journal of Medicine (2008)

The Medicalization of Cyberspace makes a valid and very necessary contribution to the conversation concerning cyberspace, medicalization and the body. Its value is found in the fact that rather than duplicating arguments already advanced on the positives and negatives of medical information being presented on the web or the horrors which stalk online discussion forms, it digs to the deeper issues of why cyberspace is altering the interaction between medicalization, health and body – a question which is often overlooked. Whilst its immediate readership will be probably be from the field of sociology, the healthcare professional, philosopher and ethicist would do well to engage with Miah and Rich’s thesiunderstanding is going to be reached both now and in the years to come.
Matt James, BioCentre (2008)


 Debating Obesity: Critical Perspectives (2010)

Edited by Emma Rich, Lee F. Monaghan and Lucy Aphramor

front cover

It is routinely declared that contemporary society is in the midst of a global ‘obesity crisis’, ultimately the result of inactive lifestyles and poor diets. What medicine calls ‘obesity’, and its precursor ‘overweight’, must be fought, we are told, because they lead to escalating morbidity and mortality from associated ill health. A sense of impending disaster that must be averted through collective and individual action continues to be emphasized, such that fatness is routinely framed as a deficiency of social and individual responsibility.

Drawing on work from scholars across a range of disciplines, and health practitioners, this book brings together critical perspectives on some of the recent claims associated with the obesity crisis. The book develops both theoretical and conceptual arguments around the obesity debate, as well as taking a more practical focus in terms of implications for the health professions. Authors offer a range of alternative perspectives, including critiques of the adequacies of scientific knowledge, the consequences of the stigmatisation of fat, the impact of pervasive body surveillance associated with weight management and the implications for health professionals to outline a new ‘critical weight studies’ agenda.

This book brings together critical perspectives on some of the recent claims associated with the obesity crisis. It develops both theoretical and conceptual arguments around the obesity debate, as well as taking a more practical focus in terms of implications for the health professions to outline an agenda for a ‘critical weight studies’.


‘This collection has certainly succeeded in expressing critical concerns on the obesity discourse and in contributing to the development of critical weight studies.’ – Sociology of Health & Illness

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