Aesthetics and Body Experiences in Health Care


Aesthetics and Body Experiences in Health Care

In this issue of the Journal of Somaesthetics, we invite contributions that investigate the significance of aesthetics and the experiencing body (soma) within the field of health care, health studies, and other health and well-being practices. The journal invites academic investigations and presentations of and reflections on any kind of somatic practice in health care.  All approaches to health and reports on practices centered on the experiencing body are welcomed independent of whether they take outset in phenomenology, pragmatism, sociology, psychology, politics or other perspectives.

Studies in health and health care comprises a broad field encompassing both medical treatment, prevention and care for elderly and permanently sick people.  The field includes a range of health and care practices and practitioners: doctors, nurses, care workers, alternative practitioners etc. Health studies are subject to a broad and interdisciplinary area that have different ways of understanding what health is and how health is studied (Naidoo & Wills, 2015). Drawing on different scientific fields, aspects of biology, medicine, culture, psychology, social policy or sociology are subjects of attention in health studies. Traditionally derived from natural science, an objective, biological construction of health has dominated health studies and health care in the western parts of the world (Naidoo & Wills, 2015). Here, the body has been considered a collection of matter-based functions, where dysfunctional bodies can be restored by repairing or replacing broken parts. Likewise, medicine dealing with physical and mental health aspects and dysfunctions considers the body as a means-––or obstacle––for performance. One of the consequences of the medical approach, for example, is that the body never can be strong and effective enough as shown by the intricate relationship between medicine and elite sports. Then body work and health become a performed art, as something done (Aldridge, 2004). In health care, bodies are seen as targets of daily care in terms of personal hygiene, treatment, exercise, proper nutrition and medication. Bodies are treated as objects of care in the sense of concern and worry. This is considered a low-ranked and dirty work performed as paid body-work on the bodies of others (Twigg, 2000).

However, aesthetic dimensions are an important and valuable addition and sometimes even a substantial means for a good or better life (Shusterman, 1999), especially for people with permanent health conditions and elderly people, but also as means of healing.  Aesthetics is often seen in relation to the beautification of the spatial interiors and surroundings of hospitals and nursing homes (wall colors, mural art, poster, paintings, sculptures and recreational parks, etc.). Likewise, the benevolent effect of aesthetics is seen in relation to cultural experiences (theater, music, poetics and narratives) and experiences in nature. And there are good reasons for that. However, somaesthetics surpasses beautification and aestheticization as it positions the work within our somatic self as the aesthetic center of healing and improvement.  This recognition of somaesthetic practices and experiences are benevolent and supporting in issues of health questions. Firstly, concerning the predominant thinking on the body as an object, somaesthetics proposes the body as an integral part of meaning generation. Secondly, concerning the distinction between health and sickness, somaesthetics proposes a much more fluid continuum that focuses on acceptance and improvement through somatic aesthetic practices. Thus, the concept of somaesthetics can contribute to health studies and somaesthetic practices can support healthcare by emphasizing the aesthetic experience and awareness of the situated body and its actions.

The Journal of Somaesthetics welcomes theoretical papers, empirical projects, descriptions and reflections on practices that focus on aesthetic experiences and practices within health studies and health care. Possible themes and fields of investigation are

  • Music and art therapy in health care
  • The aesthetics of social robots and technologies in health care
  • Integration and reflections on so-called alternative somatic practices such as Yoga in prevention and rehabilitation
  • Experiences of beauty in heath studies
  • Somatic experiences in health care
  • Aesthetic dimensions of everyday care work communication  
  • Health and care work as gendered body-work 

The Journal of Somaesthetics is a peer-reviewed, online, academic journal devoted to research that advances the interdisciplinary field of somaesthetics, understood as the critical study and meliorative cultivation of the experience and performance of the living body (or soma) as a site of sensory appreciation (aesthesis), practice and realization. The term somaesthetics designates an interdisciplinary framework rather than a philosophical position. It deals, on the one hand, with the aesthetic experience of the body as a practice proper and, on the other hand, with the academic conceptualization of the experiencing body and the body experienced; it approaches the body as the mediating center between sensory experiences and cognitive realization. Somaesthetics describes an integrative field of research where aesthetic experiences meet theories about the body and its biological structures and functions, its phenomenological and epistemological functions, and its position and significances in culture and societies.


For more information about the journal, see


Deadline for articles:     Marts 1, 2022

Peer-reviews back:        April 28. 2022

Deadline for final articles:          June 1, 2022

Publishing:                    Summer, 2022



Papers should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words and prepared for blind review, according to the Journal’s style guidelines as indicated on the Journal’s website:

Proposed complete articles will be submitted through the link above. Authors should submit a separate cover page indicating the author’s name, institutional affiliation, paper title and abstract, word count, keywords, and contact information.



Britta Møller

Falk Heinrich, +4551719576



Aldridge, D. (2004). Health, the individual, and integrated medicine: Revisiting an aesthetic of health care. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Naidoo, J., & Wills, J. (Eds.). (2015). Health studies: an introduction. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Shusterman, R. (1999) ‘Somaesthetics: A Disciplinary Proposal’, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 57(3), pp. 299–313.

 Twigg, J. (2000). Carework as a form of bodywork. Ageing and Society, 20(4), 389-411.