In pursuit of the study of pleasure: implications for health research and practice

John Coveney, Robin Bunton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many public health interventions attempt to promote health and well-being while simultaneously engaging with or negating pleasure-seeking activities. Yet the examination of pleasure is under-researched, especially within health and health-related areas. We examine pleasure as both an innate drive and a socially constructed phenomenon. Using the development of religious ideas in western cultures, we identify four forms of pleasure: carnal pleasure, disciplined pleasure, ascetic pleasure and ecstatic pleasure. These pleasures dramatically affect the construction of social and cultural identities. Moreover, they influence approaches to our understandings of health in general and interventions to public health in particular. The pursuit of the study of pleasure opens up a number of worthwhile areas for cross-disciplinary discussion and study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-179
JournalHealth:An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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