Social factors are important for the constitution and development of our embodied being. Yet some still consider the human body to be an exclusively biological entity. ‘Natural bodies or social bodies?’ describes the emergence, from the social sciences and humanities, of the broad interdisciplinary research area of ‘body studies’. This academic field addresses a wide variety of social and cultural issues as relevant to the inescapably bodily character of human existence. It has become a viable subject due to various social and historical developments—feminist and environmental campaigns, medical and technological developments, and the rise of consumer culture—that raised the visibility of the body as a general academic issue.