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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details

Atkinson, S. Scales of Care and Responsibility: debating the surgically globalised body. Social and Cultural Geography. 2011;12:623-637.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper initiates debate for geographers on the nature of care in relation to the self explored through the practices of aesthetic surgery. Central to debates on the meanings and relations of aesthetic surgery are a set of problematics related to the scales of care and responsibility. These are captured in the distinctions between caring for or caring about and between self-care or care of the self. Aesthetic surgery is a particularly ambivalent ‘extreme care’, which for many is always the expression of consent to an aesthetic hegemony or the exercise of disciplinary power. The paper draws out some of the spatial paradoxes involved in care related to the self in aesthetic surgery and proposes some routes forward. The framework of landscapes of care that enhances a temporal dimension and the concept of reworking the social relations of hegemony may help mediate the inherent tensions of scales of care and responsibility. Specifically, this combination may offer a way to allow for a limited, or bounded, care of the self without negating the networks of power within which the practices of self-care are enacted.


Special Issue: Care of the Body: Spaces of Practice.