Saturday, May 21, 2016

Postpostmodern Pseudoscholarship: Spa Studies Edition

The utterest horseshit:
This study outlines the self-positioning of skin and spa therapy students. More specifically, it focuses how they position themselves as professionals in terms of knowledge, and how gender is at play throughout this process. Drawing on a poststructural approach, inspired by Foucault and feminist theory, regularities of description and self-description were analysed. This approach provides analytical tools for analysing how people engage with discourse in this micro-context of education and training, and feminist theory enables an understanding of how gender relations of power emerge. The material consists of interview transcripts derived from interviews with 20 skin and spa therapy students. The study shows how a scientific and caring professional emerges, producing gender relations as effects of power. Furthermore, a caring discourse is ultimately mobilised and a stereotyped image of the beauty industry is shown to govern students’ self-positioning, reproducing norms of gender and consumption.
   This sort of nonsense has metastasized way, way beyond its original home in literary theory. Of course lots of stuff sounds like bullshit but isn't...but this sort of thing sounds like bullshit and is. It's popular because you can write or say pretty much whatever you want, it has the trappings of intellectual and scholarly sophistication, and by using the right words and dropping the right names, you broadcast to readers, publishers and tenure committees that you're on the right side of things, politically and culturally.
   It's actually not going to surprise me a lot if spa studies departments start popping up. Can't be a lot worse than crap we've already got... Could start off as an "intersectional" area straddling hotel/restaurant management and gender studies...

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