Carnal Sociology

“I’m advocating a sociology which takes seriously the fact that we are first and foremost embodied beings situated in place and time, making us mortal, and we are beings in the world through our senses. It’s an attempt to push for a different conception of the social agent. The two dominant conceptions are the rational choice tradition – man as the utility- maximizing machine – and the symbolic tradition, the pragmatists, who see man as a symbolic animal who manipulates signs and spins webs of meaning as Geertz famously, or Weber, actually, said.
What I propose is that we go back to the early sensualist epistemology of the young Marx, the current that is then developed by Bourdieu and others, to take seriously the fact that we are these sensuous animals who suffer. As he says, we encounter the world and we re-make it but we don’t re-make it according to our own personal wishes. It’s an effort to create a different conception of the agent and a different conception of the sociological method. Because if it’s true that social agents are carnal animals of blood, flesh, sinews, desires, who suffer, then it is also true of the sociologist.”

Loïc Wacquant in an interview with Max Farrar

The ingenuity economy

“System D is a slang phrase pirated from French-speaking Africa and the Caribbean. The French have a word that they often use to describe particularly effective and motivated people. They call them débrouillards. To say a man is a débrouillard is to tell people how resourceful and ingenious he is. The former French colonies have sculpted this word to their own social and economic reality. They say that inventive, self-starting, entrepreneurial merchants who are doing business on their own, without registering or being regulated by the bureaucracy and, for the most part, without paying taxes, are part of “l’economie de la débrouillardise.” Or, sweetened for street use, “Systeme D.” This essentially translates as the ingenuity economy, the economy of improvisation and self-reliance, the do-it-yourself, or DIY, economy. A number of well-known chefs have also appropriated the term to describe the skill and sheer joy necessary to improvise a gourmet meal using only the mismatched ingredients that happen to be at hand in a kitchen.
I like the phrase. It has a carefree lilt and some friendly resonances. At the same time, it asserts an important truth: What happens in all the unregistered markets and roadside kiosks of the world is not simply haphazard. It is a product of intelligence, resilience, self-organization, and group solidarity, and it follows a number of well-worn though unwritten rules. It is, in that sense, a system.”

Robert Neuwirth