In The Body in Late-Capitalist USA, Donald M. Lowe explores the varied social practices that code and construct the body. Arguing that our bodily lives are shaped by a complex of daily and ongoing practices—how we work, what we buy and consume—Lowe contends that as a result of the commodification of these and other social practices in the late-twentieth century, what we often understand to be the needs of the body are in fact means for capital accumulation.
Moving beyond studies of representations and images of the body, Lowe focuses on the intersection of body practices, language, and the Social to describe concretely the reality of a lived body. His strongly synthetic work brings together Marxist critique, semiotics, Foucaultian discourse analysis, and systems and communications theory to examine those practices that construct the body under late capitalism: habits of work and consumption, the ways we give birth and raise children, socialization, mental and physical healing, reconstructions and contestations of sexuality and gender. Lowe draws upon a wide range of sources, including government and labor studies and statistics, diagnostic and statistical manuals on mental illness, computer manuals, self-help books, and guides to work-related stress disorders, to illustrate the transformation of the body into a nexus of exchange value in postmodern society.