French-born Loic Wacquant (pronounced Vah-kan) is a sociologist who likes to become immersed in what he writes about. Case in point: when he wanted to write about the sociology of boxing, he actually became a boxer.
At the time, he was a 27-year-old doctoral student at the University of Chicago, looking for a way to study the black ghetto. But once inside the gym he quickly saw that “there was no role whereby I could sit on a chair and observe and talk to people like a fly on the wall,” he said. Wacquant went on to become a full-time fighter and devoted three and half years working at his boxing skills.
Ten years later, he wrote about his experience in Body & Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer. His account argues that the gym is in symbiotic opposition to the environment in which it is situated, from which it draws its members and protects them.
Currently, Loïc Wacquant is professor of Sociology and Research Associate at the Institute for Legal Research, Boalt Law School, University of California at Berkeley, where he is affiliated with the Program in Medical Anthropology, the Global Metropolitan Studies Program, the Center for the Study of Race and Gender, the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, and the Center for Urban Ethnography. He is also a researcher at the Centre de Sociologie Européenne in Paris.