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Zygmunt Bauman’s ’liquid sociology’ confronts the awesome task of reminding individual men and women that an alternative way of living together is within our eminent capabilities, if only we start to think differently about our world. The metaphor of ’liquidity’, which has become such a prominent feature of his writings since 2000, provides us with just such a new interpretation, with a novel ’way of seeing’. Each chapter in this unique collection takes seriously Bauman’s analysis of modernity as ’liquid’, throwing new light upon global social problems, as well as opening up a space for assessing the nature of Bauman’s contribution to sociology, and for understanding what may be gained and lost by embracing an artistic sensibility within the social sciences. With contributions from internationally renowned scholars, this book will appeal to all those interested in Bauman’s work, especially within sociology, social, political and cultural theory, and to anyone curious about the value of metaphor in interpreting the social world.
This is the first single-authored critical engagement with the major works of Zygmunt Bauman. Where previous books on Bauman have been exegetical, here an unwavering light is shone on key themes in the sociologist's work, exposing serious weaknesses in Bauman's interpretations of the Holocaust, Western modernity, consumerism, globalisation and the nature of sociology. The book shows how Eurocentrism, the neglect of issues of gender and a lack of awareness of the racism faced by Europe's non-white ethnic minorities seriously limit Bauman's analyses of Western societies. At the same time, it points to Bauman's repeated insistence on the need for sociologists to take a moral stance in favour of the world's poor and downtrodden as being his most valuable legacy. The book will be of great interest to sociologists. Its readability will be valued by undergraduates and postgraduates and it will attract a readership well beyond the discipline.
»Jedes einzelne von Baumans Büchern in der letzten Dekade kann als Meisterwerk gelesen werden.« Ulrich Beck »Make America great again«, lautet der Leitspruch des amtierenden US-Präsidenten. Nicht »vorwärts« soll es gehen, wie Barack Obama noch im Wahlkampf von 2012 versprochen hatte, sondern zurück zu alter Größe. Die Menschen scheinen die Hoffnung auf ein besseres Leben in der Zukunft aufgegeben zu haben und wenden sich stattdessen einer angeblich guten alten Zeit zu. In seinem letzten zu Lebzeiten vollendeten Buch untersucht der große Soziologe und Philosoph Zygmunt Bauman die Gründe für diese globale Epidemie der Nostalgie. Gut fünfhundert Jahre nach der Veröffentlichung von Thomas Morus’ Utopia, so seine These, haben die Nationalstaaten die Fähigkeit eingebüßt, ihre Versprechen auf Wohlstand und Sicherheit einzulösen. Wer in einer globalisierten Welt nach Orientierung sucht, der richtet seinen Blick daher nicht länger auf einen als Ideal verklärten Ort – einen topos –, sondern in eine untote Vergangenheit.
‘Today the smallest details of our daily lives are tracked and traced more closely than ever before, and those who are monitored often cooperate willingly with the monitors. From London and New York to New Delhi, Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro, video cameras are a familiar and accepted sight in public places. Air travel now commonly involves devices such as body-scanners and biometric checks that have proliferated in the wake of 9/11. And every day Google and credit-card issuers note the details of our habits, concerns and preferences, quietly prompting customized marketing strategies with our active, all too often zealous cooperation. In today’s liquid modern world, the paths of daily life are mobile and flexible. Crossing national borders is a commonplace activity and immersion in social media increasingly ubiquitous. Today’s citizens, workers, consumers and travellers are always on the move but often lacking certainty and lasting bonds. But in this world where spaces may not be fixed and time is boundless, our perpetual motion does not go unnoticed. Surveillance spreads in hitherto unimaginable ways, responding to and reproducing the slippery nature of modern life, seeping into areas where it once had only marginal sway. In this book the surveillance analysis of David Lyon meets the liquid modern world so insightfully dissected by Zygmunt Bauman. Is a dismal future of moment-by-moment monitoring closing in, or are there still spaces of freedom and hope? How do we realize our responsibility for the human beings before us, often lost in discussions of data and categorization? Dealing with questions of power, technology and morality, this book is a brilliant analysis of what it means to be watched – and watching – today.
Zygmunt Bauman is one of the most inspirational and controversial thinkers on the scene of contemporary sociology. For several decades he has provided compelling analyses and diagnoses of a vast variety of aspects of modern and liquid modern living. This book considers the theoretical significance of his contribution to sociology, but also discusses and adopts a critical stance towards his work. The Sociology of Zygmunt Bauman introduces and critically appraises some of the most significant as well as some of the lesser known of Bauman's contributions to contemporary sociology. An international team of scholars delineates and discusses how Bauman's treatment of these themes challenges conventional wisdom in sociology, thereby revising and revitalizing sociological theory. As a special feature, the book concludes with Bauman's intriguing reflections and contemplations on his own life and intellectual trajectory, published here for the first time in English. In this postscript aptly entitled 'Pro Domo Sua' ('About Myself'), he describes the pushes and pulls that throughout the years have shaped his thinking.
The speed of social dynamics has overtaken the speed of thought. Adopting a dialectical perspective towards reality, social theory has always detected faults in the dominant social pattern, foreseeing crises and outlining in advance the features of new social models. Thought has always moved faster than reality and its ruling models, ensuring a dynamic equilibrium during modernity. Despite any dramatic social crisis, theory has always provided exit routes. The tragedy of current crisis lies in the fact that its social implications are exasperated by the absence of alternative views. This book identifies the causes of this mismatch between thought and reality, and illustrates a way out.

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