Loïc Wacquant | The Invention of the ‘Underclass’: A Study in the Politics of Knowledge

Book cover

27/10/2022 12:00 am


Social Science Matrix (8th Floor Social Sciences Building)

RSVP for this Book Talk

Join GMS and discussants Jovan Scott Lewis and Anna Livia Brand for a talk with the author about his new book,The Invention of the ‘Underclass’: A Study in the Politics of Knowledge, which 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. 

“In this punchy book, Loïc Wacquant retraces the invention and metamorphoses of this racialized folk devil, from the structural conception of Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal to the behavioral notion of Washington think-tank experts to the neo-ecological formulation of sociologist William Julius Wilson. He uncovers the springs of the sudden irruption, accelerated circulation, and abrupt evaporation of the “underclass” from public debate, and reflects on the implications for the social epistemology of urban marginality. What accounts for the “lemming effect” that drew a generation of scholars of race and poverty over a scientific cliff? What are the conditions for the formation and bursting of “conceptual speculative bubbles”? What is the role of think tanks, journalism, and politics in imposing “turnkey problematics” upon social researchers? What are the special quandaries posed by the naming of dispossessed and dishonored populations in scientific discourse and how can we reformulate the explosive question of “race” to avoid these troubles?” Read more at Wiley.com >

Loïc Wacquant is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Researcher at the Centre de sociologie européenne, Paris. His other books include Urban Outcasts: A Comparative Sociology of Advanced Marginality (2008), Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity (2009), and Body and Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer (expanded anniversary edition, 2022), and Bourdieu in the City: Challenging Urban Theory (forthcoming in 2023).


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