Cardiff Metropolitan University
31 - Heat physical cultural embodiment paper JCE Accepted Sept 2016.pdf (212.36 kB)

Exploring Lived Heat, “Temperature Work,” and Embodiment: Novel Auto/Ethnographic Insights from Physical Cultures

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posted on 2022-12-19, 12:14 authored by Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson, Anu Vaittinen, George JenningsGeorge Jennings, Helen Owton

 Drawing on sociological and anthropological theorizations of the senses and “sensory work,” the purpose of this article is to investigate via phenomenology-based auto/ethnography, and to generate novel insights into the underresearched sense of thermoception, as the lived sense of temperature. Based on four long-term, in-depth auto/ethnographic research projects, we examine whether thermoception can be conceptualized as a distinct sense or is more appropriately categorized as a specific modality of touch. Empirically and analytically to highlight the salience of thermoception in everyday life, we draw on findings from four auto/ethnographic projects conducted by the authors as long-standing insider members of their various physical–cultural lifeworlds. The foci of the research projects span the physical cultures of distance running, mixed martial arts, traditionalist Chinese martial arts, and boxing. While situated within distinctive physical–cultural frameworks, nevertheless, the commonalities in the thermoceptive elements of our respective experiences as practitioners were striking, and thermoception emerged as highly salient across all four lifeworlds. Our analysis explores the key auto/ethnographic findings, centering on four specific areas: elemental touch, heat of the action, standing still, and tuning in. Emerging from all four studies were key findings relating to the valorization of sweat, and the importance of “temperature work” involving thermoceptive somatic learning, and physical–culturally specific bodily ways of knowing and sense-making. These in turn shape how heat and cold are actually “felt” and experienced in the mind–body. 


Published in

Journal of Contemporary Ethnography




  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


Allen-Collinson, J. Vaittinen, A., Jennings, G. & Owton, H. (2018) 'Exploring lived heat, "temperature work," and embodiment: Novel auto/ethnographic insights from physical cultures', Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 47 (3), pp.283-305

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

George Jennings

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Qualitative Research Methods and Social Theory

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  • © The Authors


  • en

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