When French sociologist Loïc Wacquant signed up at a boxing gym in a black neighborhood of Chicago’s 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 pugilist’s 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 Bourdieu’s 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 century’s end.