Eating disorders resulting in obesity are among the most recent social issues that might be understood best through a sociological lens. The eating disorder of a person is, in most instances, considered as a personal problem that originates from low self-esteem, lack of self-control, or even an individual issue (Pilgrim, 2020). This is an okay explanation, but it does not help in understanding why many people have problems at personal levels that later on translate to eating disorders, which later on cause obesity. At the same time, this belief neglects cultural and social forces that assist in giving ultimate explanations to this disorder (Pilgrim, 2020). For instance, women are the most prevalent gender with eating disorders among the American population.
The difference in gender propels individuals to question why women in American society are associated with eating disorders (Rudolph & Hilbert, 2017). Obesity in American society is as a result of sedentary lifestyles where individuals consume foods that are not healthy and which in turn lead to obesity. With the absence of this culture standard, fewer American women would suffer from obesity than even now (Rudolph & Hilbert, 2017). However, since it exists, also, if every woman with obesity were to be cured, there would be others who would come in and take their place, not unless this standard would be changed.
According to a report by the New York Times, the acceptance of size is somehow challenging as it may be faced with discriminatory remarks. On the other hand, the body positivity movement argues that weight loss is not valid and that it instead causes more harm than good (Ellin, 2020). Therefore, if at all, eating disorders are viewed in this kind of way; they are understood best as a social issue other than just a type of personal trouble.
The strength of Adorno’s theory lies in its explanation of the current factors that influence social problems. The theory explains how society can be used to understand social issues that impact specific populations (Baumgarten & Ullrich, 2016). However, the theory ignores the foundations or origins of social problems, and only focuses on the current nature of events. Foucault’s theory of discursive formation is robust in that it goes back to the historical foundations of a social problem (Juergensmeyer & Benz, 2019). It aims to seek the roots of a problem and uses this explanation to understand its nature. However, the theory is limited in a manner that it only focuses on the historical background and ignores the changes that might have happened over time.
Therefore, these two theories complement each other in that one is limited in historical context and the other fills in the gaps. Where one is limited in current influences, the other fills in the gap. Combining the two theories helps create a coherent understanding of both the historical influences and current influences.
On the other hand, Adorno’s concept of capitalism upholds the notion that capitalism does not sell society the things that it needs (Baumgarten & Ullrich, 2016). This concept significantly applies to obesity in that the capitalist market does not offer society what it needs in terms of healthy diets and meals. Marketers are constantly advertising unhealthy foods, and the industry has also made these foods cheaper and more attractive. Instead of promoting the consumption of healthy meals, capitalism promotes the consumption of unhealthy meals that foster the development of obesity.
Baumgarten, B., & Ullrich, P. (2016). Discourse, power, and governmentality. Social movement research with and beyond Foucault. Social theory and social movements (pp. 13-38). Springer VS, Wiesbaden.
Ellin, A. (2020). Fighting Fat Discrimination, but Still Wanting to Lose Weight. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 19 May 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/07/well/eat/fat-acceptance-weight-loss-body-positive.html.
Juergensmeyer, E., & Benz, B. (2019). Neoliberalism, Discursive Formations, and the Educational Intelligence Complex. In Neoliberalism and Academic Repression (pp. 58-72). Brill.
Pilgrim, T. (2020). Record two million people at risk of type 2 diabetes, NHS warns. The Independent. Retrieved 19 May 2020, from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/type-2-diabetes-record-number-two-million-nhs-a9353886.html.
Rudolph, A., & Hilbert, A. (2017). The effects of obesity-related health messages on explicit and implicit weight bias. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 2064.
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