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Anorexia Nervosa - Att skapa ordning i kaos: En studie om ätstörningens rituella karaktär i den individualiserade världen
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology.
2014 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to analyze how individuals experience their eating disorder, the focus being if anorexia may be perceived as a purity ritual in the new individualized world. The aim is to examine if individuals affected with anorexia nervosa perceive the disorder as a comforting solution to the modern world’s indistinct boarders and the individual freedom that it entails. This will be analyzed with the help of Mary Douglas theories about purity rituals, dirt and order and Catarina Kinnvalls theories about the individualized world’s uncertainty.

To limit the study I have chosen to examine newspaper articles and documentaries that focus on anorexia nervosa and thus excluded material on other eating disorders. The material of this study consists of 177 newspaper articles and 6 documentaries, which were published between 2000 and 2014. While processing the empirical material I have focused on how individuals with anorexia perceive the underlying factors for the eating disorder, and general expert statements on anorexia. These statements have been further analyzed based on recurring key words and patterns.   

The results of the analysis show that anorexia nervosa, if seen in the light of its ritual elements, can be perceived as a solution to the modern world’s unorganized chaos. With the help of the purity ritual (i.e. the eating disorder) the individual is trying to escape the anxiety that arises when he/she is faced with unmanageable choices in the individualized world. In this sense, the original problem is not anorexia: anorexia is the solution. The daily monitoring of diet and exercise routines could possibly be understood as a purity ritual the individual obey in an attempt to structure the modern world’s indistinct boarders. In the chronically changing individualized world, it is not inconceivable that the eating disorder’s ritualistic character is perceived as a mechanism to organize the environment and set clear boundaries.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 52 p.
Keyword [en]
eating disorders, anorexia, individualization, purity, ritual, control, security
Keyword [sv]
ätstörningar, anorexia, individualisation, renhet, ritual, kontroll, trygghet
National Category
Cultural Studies Social Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-225802OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-225802DiVA: diva2:722343
Subject / course
Cultural Anthropology
Available from: 2014-06-27 Created: 2014-06-07 Last updated: 2014-06-27Bibliographically approved

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