Body & Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer by Loïc WacquantWhen French sociologist Loic Wacquant signed up at a boxing gym in a black neighborhood of Chicagos South Side, he had never contemplated getting close to a ring, let alone climbing into it. Yet for three years he immersed himself among local fighters, amateur and professional. He learned the Sweet science of bruising, participating in all phases of the pugilists strenuous preparation, from shadow-boxing drills to sparring to fighting in the Golden Gloves tournament. In this experimental ethnography of incandescent intensity, the scholar-turned-boxer fleshes out Pierre Bourdieus signal concept of habitus, deepening our theoretical grasp of human practice. And he supplies a model for a carnal sociology capable of capturing the taste and ache of action.
Body & Soul marries the analytic rigor of the sociologist with the stylistic grace of the novelist to offer a compelling portrait of a bodily craft and of life and labor in the black American ghetto at centurys end.
Loïc Wacquant - Advanced marginality, ethnoracial divisions and the strategies of the state
Body & Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer
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Yet for three years he immersed himself among local fighters, amateur and professional. Breaking with the exoticizing cast of public discourse and conventional research, Urban Outcasts takes the reader inside the black ghetto of Chicago and the deindustrializing banlieue of Paris to discover that urban marginality is not everywhere the same. It also reveals the crystallization of a new regime of marginality fuelled by the fragmentation of wage labour, the retrenchment of the social state and the concentration of dispossessed categories in stigmatized areas bereft of a collective idiom of identity and claims-making. Urban Outcasts sheds new light on the explosive mix of mounting misery, stupendous affluence and festering street violence resurging in the big cities of the First World. The punitive turn of penal policy in the United States after the acme of the Civil Rights movement responds not to rising criminal insecurity but to the social insecurity spawned by the fragmentation of wage labor and the shakeup of the ethnoracial hierarchy.
Just as one cannot understand what an instituted religion such as Catholicism is without studying in detail the structure and functioning of the organization that supports it, in this case the Roman Church, one cannot elucidate the meaning and roots of boxing in contemporary American society—at least in the lower regions of social space, where it continues to defy an extinction periodically announced as its imminent and inevitable fate—without canvassing the fabric of the social and symbolic relations woven in and around the training gym, the hub and hidden engine of the pugilistic universe. A gym is a complex and polysemous institution, overloaded with functions and representations that do not readily reveal themselves to the outside observer, even one acquainted with the nature of the place. On the surface, though, what could be more banal and more self-evident than a boxing gym? One could indeed take word for word the following vignette of the famed Stillman's Gym in the New York City of the fifties, composed by George Plimpton, to describe just about any gym in America today, so powerful are the invariants that govern their design:. A dark stairway led up into a gloomy vault-like room, rather like the hold of an old galleon. One heard the sound before one's eyes acclimatized: the slap-slap of the ropes being skipped, the thud of leather into the big heavy bags that squeaked from their chains as they swung, the.