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Title:Meanings go mobile: Fitness, health and the quality of life debate in contemporary America
Author(s):Howell, Jeremy Wyn
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Loy, John W.
Department / Program:Kinesiology and Community Health
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):American Studies
Education, Physical
History, Modern
Abstract:After two terms of "new patriotism" and chants of "U.S.A.: We're number 1," Ronald Reagan attributed his phenomenal popularity with the American public not to the made promises of government but to the real progress made by "the people." Emerging out of the 1970s era of social nightmares, the "Reagan revolution" has afforded the American public to dream of a better quality of life.
Reagan's dream of individual self-betterment remains a powerful and popular definer of a post 1970s American political, economic and cultural scene. It is a discourse of the quality of life that says that anyone can practice self-betterment if they put their mind to it, if they are prepared to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps." In the contemporary era, it is the body that has become a symbol of such self-betterment. Doing something about our lives means doing something about our bodies; biological self-betterment.
In this fashion, fitness and health practices are not, despite appearances, apolitical and retreatist. They form part of what is a very contemporary consciousness. Today, we live in an era where having the non-fat, non-smoking, Nautilus body has become as prestigious as owning a BMW. It is an era where we spend millions on diet soda, lite beer and eat white meat recipes culled from the diet books that now stock our kitchen libraries. No longer are oat bran and bean sprouts the signifiers of the counter-culture. Yesterday's radicalism has become today's common sense.
This study focuses upon the way in which such practices are articulated to the contemporary quality of life debate as it has emerged in the age of Reagan. This is the broader context into which I wish to locate a discussion of the fitness and health boom as it has emerged in America since the 1970s. For, it is that articulation that has markedly re-defined the terrain upon which the quality of life is now discussed and debated.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Howell, Jeremy Wyn
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9026211
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9026211

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