Body & Soul
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Body & Soul : Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer

3.96 (181 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

When French sociologist Loic 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 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, but also a fascinating tale of personal transformation and social transcendence. "Body & Soul is a gem, destined for a life of classics like Street Corner Society (though much fleshier and juicier and denser), studied over and over again as a pattern to follow, though defying the ability, imagination, and, indeed, humanity of the would-be followers. An act impossible to match. A poem in prose, a work of love and wisdom rolled into one: this is how ethnography should be written, were the ethnographers capable of writing like that." -Zygmunt Bauman, author of Liquid Modernityshow more

Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 157.5 x 205.7 x 24.6mm | 453.6g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • halftones throughout
  • 0195168356
  • 9780195168358
  • 1,640,759

Review quote

"With a sociological imagination inspired by Bourdieu and writing that is electric, Wacquant brings to life the pain, sweat, and discipline of boxing, as well as the vivid language, small triumphs, and gritty masculine comraderie of those who devote themselves to it in rundown gyms on Chicago's South Side. With respect and affection for those who mentored him, he takes us into a lifeworld that offers to some an alternative to the deadly streets of urban wastelands." -Lila Abu-Lughod, author of Veiled Sentiments "A truly exceptional, even historic, piece of research. Brilliantly conceived, beautifully written, personally impassioned and, on multiple levels - sociological theory, social policy, ethnographic methodology - an inspiring book. It gives a bittersweet appreciation of what young black men born in 20th-century urban American ghettos might have become on a larger scale, were they given not an easier route but a more challenging, institutionally honored and indigenously supported rite of passage to adulthood." -Jack Katz, author of Seductions of Crime "Body & Soul is a dazzling renewal of the endangered craft of narrative, participant sociology. Wacquant's taut rendering of the tension between the haven of the gym and the engulfing ghetto forms the backdrop for an absorbing exploration of the opposition between the manly discipline of the gym and the short, nasty brutalities of the ring. The result is a truly unique and powerful document that successfully translates the gritty routines and grim dignities of social existence without destroying or demeaning its subject." -Orlando Patterson, author of Rituals of Blood "This remarkable and courageous book gives life to Pierre Bourdieu's adage that we 'learn by body'. A Frenchman in Chicago sets out to learn about the black ghetto but not through detached observation: he joins the local gym and labors to become a boxer for whom, as for his buddies, 'fighting is my life, my woman, my love'. Though he yearns to become a pro, he never loses sight of the sociology in his quest. Bravo for sticking with science, for this book spells out a stunning lesson in the carnal sociology of where we are and what we are doing." -Jerome Bruner, author of Making Stories "Here is original-minded social science research, carefully done and knowing documentary field work, become something else: an absorbing personal journey of experience, observation, and understanding, compellingly and instructively narrated. Body & Soul is a book that will enliven its readers, acquaint them with a whole world of ambition, purpose, and vulnerability, and live in their minds long thereafter." -Robert Coles, author of Doing Documentary Work 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, but also a fascinating tale of personal transformation and social transcendence. "Body & Soul is a gem, destined for a life of classics like Street Corner Society (though much fleshier and juicier and denser), studied over and over again as a pattern to follow, though defying the ability, imagination, and, indeed, humanity of the would-be followers. An act impossible to match. A poem in prose, a work of love and wisdom rolled into one: this is how ethnography should be written, were the ethnographers capable of writing like that." -Zygmunt Bauman, author of Liquid Modernityshow more

About Loic Wacquant

Loic Wacquant is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Researcher at the Centre de sociologie europeenne, Paris. A MacArthur Foundation Fellow, he is the author of numerous works on urban marginality, ethnoracial domination, the penal state, and social theory, translated in some dozen languages. He is a co-founder and editor of the interdisciplinary journal Ethnography."show more

Rating details

181 ratings
3.96 out of 5 stars
5 30% (54)
4 45% (81)
3 20% (36)
2 3% (6)
1 2% (4)
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