Welcome to the personal homepage of Loïc Wacquant. I am a sociologist who tries to wed epistemology, ethnography, social theory, and comparison to capture the carnality of social existence; the structure, dynamics, and experience of urban marginality; the making of the penal state and the rise of neoliberalism; the specificity of ethnoracial domination and the predicament of the precariat. You will find on this site guides to my work and books, a selection of articles with PDFs roughly organized by theme; a sample of public lectures, debates, interviews and interventions in public discussion; information on the students I have supervised, the courses I teach, and musings on the activities of the Ethnographic Café.


Cover for 

Body & Soul

My latest publication is the expanded anniversary of Body and Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer (out in October 2021, with 140 pages of new text). It explores “the making of” the study and explicates how I deployed Bourdieu’s signal concept of habitus as both topic and tool of inquiry on the way to formulating the tenets of “carnal sociology.” The postface retraces the trials and tribulations of my gym mates in and out of the ring over the past thirty years and probes what they reveal about the economics of blood, masculinity, love, and the craft of sociology itself. A companion book of historical photo-ethnography is in the works and will come out in Fall of 2022 under the title Journey in the Land of Pugs.



The Invention of the “Underclass”: A Study in the Politics of Knowledge (forthcoming in February 2022) is an exercise in epistemic reflexivity in the mold of Bachelard, Canguilhem, and Bourdieu. It charts the rise, metamorphoses, and fall of the racialized folk devil of the “underclass” in the long shadow of the ghetto riots of the 1960s. It draws out the implications of strange career of this academic-journalistic-policy myth for the social epistemology of dispossessed and dishonored categories. It uses this case study to uncover the springs of “lemming effects,” “conceptual speculative bubbles” and “turnkey problematics” in social science. It elaborates a set of criteria for forging robust analytic concepts and applies them to the vexed notion of “race.”


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