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