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Culture and Embodied Cognition: Moral Discourses in Internet Support Groups for Overeaters

Social Forces Volume 88, Number 2, ISSN 0037-7732


This article argues that a modified version of Bourdieu's "habitus" concept can generate insights into moral culture and the ways people use culture to make changes in their lives. If revised in light of recent findings from cognitive neuroscience, the habitus allows for the analysis of culture as embodied cognitive structures linking individuals to primary-group discourses. To demonstrate the utility of this conception, I examine the unique abstract language and embodied metaphors used by members of religious and secular overeaters' internet support groups. The religious group used far more "cleanliness" metaphors, and members who made frequent use of such metaphors remained with the group longer and posted more messages. This effect was not found for either group's abstract language or for the secular group's embodied metaphors. The findings suggest that a cultural influence on social bonding can be shown when culture is operationalized in terms of embodied cognitive schemas that operate within both the habitus and group discourses. Also, traditionally religious moral culture may be more strongly associated with cultural coherence and social bonding than is modernist culture. (Contains 2 notes, 7 tables, and 2 figures.)


Ignatow, G. (2009). Culture and Embodied Cognition: Moral Discourses in Internet Support Groups for Overeaters. Social Forces, 88(2), 643-670. Retrieved January 22, 2022 from .

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