||The following pages offer a critique of recent sociological theory about our present: the historical conjuncture that is defined as the era of "globalisation". The paper argues instead for the "re-grounding" of sociology
in the concrete materiality of non-digitalised social bonds and their
repertoires of action. Secondly, it provides an understanding of materiality
through already"encultured" bodies operating in four analytically
distinguishable planes of interaction: of gendering, livelihoods-creating,
oralising and valuing systems that constitute the core capacities
of practice. (1)
Thirdly, it postulates that their cultural formations (2), bounded as they are by macro-structures and institutions come to constitute fields of practice (3) and trajectories for the production of life (4). Fourthly, it situates both practices and their fields through examples from case studies of livelihood strategies in poor urban communities in KwaZulu Natal. (5) It therefore demonstrates how institutions and organisations shape but are also shaped by trans-local social processes and pressures. It finally, demonstrates how collective and group-based agencies mobilise and get mobilised over "ills", vulnerabilities, disasters and needs. In doing all this, over and above its polemic against the elitism and West-centrism of current, progressive sociology, it also takes issue with its obverse: the ever recurrent romantic juxtaposition of local communities as the always pre-given alternative.