Back in the days of my sociological youth in France, Loïc Wacquant was known as the Next Bourdieu. I think he has lived up to the nickname and produced some of the most powerful sociology around. He is definitely one of my favorite sociologists around (I know I have said that about several other sociologists but it is not my fault that there are so many sociologists doing great theoretical and empirical work with such far-reaching implications and strong explanatory power).
I have already blogged about Wacquant quite a bit. I have written a fairly thorough review of his book Punishing the Poor, which was one of the best things I have read in 2009. But the first book of his I have ever read (aside from An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology, co-written with Pierre Bourdieu) was the equally engaging Body and Soul. Body and Soul relates his participant observation work at a boxing gym in the Chicago Southside. In the book, he goes through the description of the boxing gym as a counterculture to the surrounding urban ghetto, details the socialization process any novice boxer goes through, as well as the social structure of the boxing gym. He also elaborates in detail the development of bodily capital, its maintenance, increase and possible loss.
During this term, I will be reviewing tow other books by Wacquant: Urban Outcasts and Prisons of Poverty which, I suspect, explore some familiar topics relating to urban poverty, mass incarceration and the neoliberal state.
I have borrowed the idea of a sociologist of the semester from my comrade in arms, Todd Krohn, from his blog, The Power Elite. This term, he has selected Howard S. Becker as his sociologist of the semester. As far as I’m concerned, Outsiders still remains the ultimate sociological study of deviance.