Modifying my self: A qualitative study exploring agency, structure and identity for women seeking publicly funded plastic surgery in Australia

Kristen Foley, Nicola Dean, Connie Musolino, Randall Long, Paul Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Our sociological knowledge base about plastic surgery has been predominantly constructed in free market contexts, leaving uncertainties as to how sociological theory around agency, identity, and structure apply in the context of publicly funded plastic surgeries. We draw on narratives of Australian women while waiting for abdominoplasty in the public system and recounting their post-surgical realities to understand the relational, dependent and interdependent agency–structure networks in which women's bodies, affects, lives and eligibility requirements are enmeshed. We found women adopted a ‘deserving’ identity to help them claim and enact agency as they felt and navigated the layered structures that govern publicly funded abdominoplasty in Australia, and theorise how this might influence unfolding patterns of social life. We explicate the importance of locating women's lived experiences of medical (dys)function vis-à-vis the sociocultural histories of medicine, health, gender and citizenship that give rise to publicly funded healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sociology
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • agency/structure
  • body
  • gender
  • identity
  • plastic surgery
  • public healthcare

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