Obesity in organizational context

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21 Citations (SciVal)


This article argues that obesity is an overlooked topic that deserves to be investigated in organizational studies, in line with the recent interest in embodiment. Obesity plays a pervasive role in everyday organizational life as a source of discrimination, legitimization of power differentials and widespread anxiety even for the non-obese. Obesity is also a thoroughly organized phenomenon. It is increasingly construed as a medical and societal problem and the target of massive efforts to curb the 'obesity epidemic'. These include workplace health initiatives that offer opportunities for empirical access to otherwise elusive phenomena related to obesity. To substantiate its claims, the article relates research from several fields, notably critical obesity research and empirical studies of embodiment in organizations. It points at intriguing combinations of ubiquitous social influence and failed campaigns, of subjugation and resistance, and of prejudice and critical reflection. Finally, the article indicates directions for future research, which could fruitfully apply and further develop the late-Foucauldian themes of governmentality and technologies of the self.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-585
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Business Administration


  • organization
  • technologies of the self
  • obesity
  • governmentality
  • body


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