Body & Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer by Loïc Wacquant

By Loïc Wacquant

Whilst French sociologist Lo?c Wacquant signed up at a boxing fitness center in a black local of Chicago's South aspect, he had by no means meditated getting with regards to a hoop, not to mention mountaineering into it. but for 3 years he immersed himself between neighborhood opponents, beginner undefined. He realized the candy technology of bruising, engaging in all levels of the pugilist's strenuous guidance, from shadow-boxing drills to sparring to battling within the Golden Gloves match. during this experimental ethnography of incandescent depth, the scholar-turned-boxer provides a version for a "carnal sociology" able to shooting "the style and soreness of action." physique & Soul marries the analytic rigor of the sociologist with the stylistic grace of the novelist to provide a compelling portrait of a physically craft and of lifestyles and hard work within the black American ghetto, but in addition a desirable story of private transformation and social transcendence.

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2, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990 [1987], 166, my translation). The Street and the Ring • ing to Ludwig Wittgenstein, is born and persists only in and through the group that it defines in turn through a circular process. In other words, the dispositions that make up the accomplished pugilist are, like any "technique of the body" for Marcel Mauss, the "work of individual and collective practical reason. " 5 Finally, to become a boxer is to appropriate through progressive impregnation a set of corporeal mechanisms and mental schemata so intimately imbricated that they erase the distinction between the physical and the spiritual, between what pertains to athletic abilities and what belongs to moral capacities and will.

6. , 383, trans. 120, my translation. 7. Martin Sanchez-Jankowski, Islands in the Street: Gangs in Urban American Society (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991); Mercer Sullivan, "Getting Paid": Youth, Crime, and Work in the Inner City (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989); and Philippe Bourgois, In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). 17 18 • Body & Soul social meaning only in regard of the structure of life chances offered— or denied—by the local system of instruments of social reproduction and mobility, namely, the public schools, the deskilled labor market, and the activities and networks that make up the predatory economy of the street.

I had to be a mean dog. A lotta concentrated people, young guys wan'ed to take yer money and beat ya up an' you jus' had to fight or move out the neighbo'hood. " Many gym members were thus "pretrained" on the street in the art of self-defense, if not by personal taste then by necessity. In point of fact, a good number of them are former "street fighters" reconverted to boxing. "I used to fight a lot when I was younger anyway," recounts Lorenzo, "so my father figure like, you know, 'If you gonna fight, well why don't you take it to a gym where you gonna learn, you know, a little more basics to it, maybe make some money, go further and do somethin'...

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