Rethinking urban inequality, with Loїc Wacquant

Start date: 
Tue, 07/06/2016
Closing date: 
Tue, 07/06/2016
The Cutlers' Hall, Sheffield UK
Event contact: 
Emma Smith (0114 225 3073 /

9.15 am - 5.00 pm

Co-conveners: Ryan Powell (Sheffield Hallam University), John Flint (University of Sheffield)

Numerous studies have highlighted the changing and deepening nature of urban inequality and marginality in advanced societies. To amplify the continued efforts to profile these issues by Sheffield urbanists, we are delighted to host a series of events that will bring the noted scholar Loїc Wacquant to the city to debate them with colleagues.

Through his voluminous papers and such books as Urban Outcasts (2008), Punishing the Poor (2009), and The Two Faces of the Ghetto (2016), Wacquant has been influential in numerous domains, including urban sociology, geography, politics, anthropology, planning and housing studies. A key strength of his investigations is the way in which they combine a broad theoretical vision with granular empirical research, while mating historical, comparative and policy perspectives to characterize emerging forms and experiences of urban inequality. In “taking Bourdieu to town,” Wacquant’s dynamic framework is increasingly called upon in analyses of disparity and identity in the city and by critiques of neoliberal modes of governance. In a period of declining policy attention or investment in core urban problems, this symposium offers an exciting opportunity to connect empirical, theoretical and practically oriented work that falls within the broad purview scoped by Wacquant’s work.

This international one-day conference, followed by two research seminars, seeks to engage, revise, and extend Wacquant's ongoing project of 'disentangl[ing] the triangular nexus of class fragmentation, ethnic division and state-crafting in the polarizing city' (Wacquant, 2014). The conference will present new research and promote reflections on three interrelated themes: (i) social class; (ii) ethnicity; and (iii) state and space. Confirmed speakers include

  • Loїc Wacquant, University of California, Berkeley and Centre Européenne de Sociologie et de Science Politique, Paris
  • Matt Clement, University of Winchester
  • Adam Elliott-Cooper, University of Oxford
  • John Flint, University of Sheffield
  • Emma Jackson, Goldsmith's
  • Isabella Clough Marinaro, John Cabot University
  • Kirsteen Paton, University of Leeds
  • David Robinson, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Fabien Truong, University of Paris 8
  • Justus Uitermark, University of Amsterdam

The conference aims to take stock of Wacquant's recent work and assess its value as a theoretical and empirical springboard for rethinking urban inequality in contemporary times. It also seeks to open new avenues for developing Wacquant's analytic framework and articulating it with other perspectives on dynamic spatial and social processes in the metropolis across Europe and beyond, namely

  • How can Wacquant's work aid the empirical understanding of today's complex urban inequalities? 
  • And how can empirical investigation and theoretical synthesis aid the refinement and development of Wacquant's framework?

The conference seeks to engage scholars across the gamut of disciplines interested in the changing nature of inequality and identity in the contemporary city as well as researchers looking for new theoretical ideas for reframing classic issues in urban studies.

The conference will be followed by a Public Lecture in the same venue which will mark the official launch of the Wacquant's new book: THE TWO FACES OF THE GHETTO (Polity Press, 2016). See the link above to book a place.

References and further reading

“Marginality, Ethnicity and Penality in the Neoliberal City: An Analytic Cartography.” Ethnic & Racial Studies, 37, no 10, 2014, Symposium (with responses from Andy Clarno, Michael Dawson, Matt Desmond, Amy Lerman, Mara Loveman, Douglas Massey, Dorothy Roberts, Robert Sampson, William Julius Wilson, Andreas Wimmer): 1687-1711.

“Revisiting Territories of Relegation: Class, Ethnicity and the State in the Making of Advanced Marginality.”  Urban Studies Journal, 53, no. 6, March 2016 (Symposium with responses by Nicole Marwell, Janos Ladanyí, Troels Schultz Larsen, Orlando Patterson, and Emma Shaw Crane): 1077-1088.

“A Janus-Faced Institution of Ethnoracial Closure: A Sociological Specification of the Ghetto.” Pp. 1-31 in Ray Hutchison and Bruce Haynes (eds.), The Ghetto: Contemporary Global Issues and Controversies, Boulder, Westview, 2011.

“Bourdieu, Foucault, and the Penal State in the Era of Neoliberalism,” in Daniel Zamora (ed.), Foucault and Neoliberalism, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2016, pp. 113-133.

“The Wedding of Workfare and Prisonfare Revisited.”  Social Justice 38, 1-2 (Spring 2011): 203-221.

“For a Sociology of Flesh and Blood.” Qualitative Sociology, 38, 1 (March 2015), Symposium (with responses from Randall Collins, Victoria Pitts-Taylor, Randol Contreras, and Karen Cerrulo): 1-11.

Homines in extremis: What Fighting Scholars Teach us about Habitus.” Body & Society, 20-2 (June 2014, Symposium with responses by Nick Crossley, Greg Downey, Hélène Mialet, and Élise Paradis): 3-17.

“The Body, the Ghetto and the Penal State” (with a prefatory article by Black Hawk Hancock, “Following Loïc Wacquant into the Field”), Qualitative Sociology 32-1 (March 2009): 101-129.


Download conference presentations using this link

How to book

The event is part funded by the Centre for Regional, Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University; and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and Urban Institute at the University of Sheffield. A fee of £50 will be payable by all delegates to cover the remaining running costs of the conference.

Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. To book a place please visit

If you have any special dietary requirements please email Emma Smith (0114 225 3073 /


Venue address: Cutlers' Hall Church Street, Sheffield, S1 1HG. See map here

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