By Vladimir Janković (auth.)
This publication explores the social origins of the Western preoccupation with well-being and environmental dangers. It seems on the upward push of the dichotomy among the susceptible 'in' and the threatening 'out' by means of reading the pathologies linked to climate, household area, air flow, garments, and trip in Britain on the flip of the nineteenth century.
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Additional info for Confronting the Climate: British Airs and the Making of Environmental Medicine
Yet only those who believed that immediate restraint resulted in future benefit could take such investments seriously. Everyone knew that acting on a promise of future health lacked the incentive found in acting on the immediacy of pain. Before the advent of middle-class affluence and “the invention of comfort,” to use John Crowley’s expression, such actions were neither self-evident nor financially feasible. Wedding one’s purse to discipline remained the prerogative only of those whose means kept them well above the level of survival and bad luck.
In a society characterized by growing participation in public life and intercourse, the everyday was no longer a backdrop to social meaning usually associated with the display of princely power. If anything, display was now everywhere, communication frantic, and the pursuit of pleasure a norm. The proliferation of public life entailed a diversification of E XPOSED AND VULNER ABLE 23 the somatic: People ran into medical trouble in proportion to their assiduousness in pursuing profession and pleasure.
Both were seen to represent hazards to unalienable medical and civic rights. And where social exposures meant embarrassment and scandal, atmospheric exposures compromised health. 107 Eighteenth-century physiology thus gave a basis to commentary on the fashionable diseases that, according to the medical men, were taking their toll on the population at the epicenters of British consumerism and entertainment. This view, I stress, informed the control of the individual and social conditions of existence, which I will shortly discuss in relation to dress, domestic appliances, architecture, and health travel.