- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Polity Press (15 March 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0745624103
- ISBN-13: 978-0745624105
- Product Dimensions: 15 x 2 x 22.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,69,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Liquid Modernity Paperback – 15 Mar 2000
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"Bauman on a bad day is still far more stimulating than most contemporary social thinkers. He is the Georg Simmel of our age, and his books and essays will be read when contemporary exponents of social arithmetic are long forgotten."
Times Higher Education Supplement
"Liquid Modernity is Zygmunt Bauman′s term for the present condition of the world as contrasted with the ′solid′ modernity that preceded it ... He is a vivid and original writer with an eye for the revealing personal experience.′
Dennis Wrong, Times Literary Supplement
"Zygmunt Bauman can be counted among those giants of sociology – C. Wright Mills, Émile Durkheim, Max Weber – who are bound together not by a shared ideological or disciplinary alignment, but by a profound and moral passion. I do not employ the term "moral" in the commonly used sense of "judgmental", but to describe their ability to define the spirit of the age, to ask cutting questions about society′s direction, warn of dangers and perceive opportunities."
"These books mark an important advance in Bauman′s project. He seems to be trying to bring the intellectuals back into the game, twitting them for their passivity. Bauman wants social critics to take a more active role, taking a lead by showing how the relationships between individuals and society and between the private and public spheres may be rearticulated and the spirit of the agora restored to social and political life."
British Journal of Sociology
"His work is essential reading for those political theorist who feel that part of their task is to elaborate relevant and compelling normative critique."
Contemporary Political Theory
"Bauman lucidly depicts what others call the ′postmodern situation′ a term that he painstakingly avoids, and his analysis is important for anyone interested in cultural criticism"
Caterina Norlin–Brage, Religious Studies Review
"One of post–modernity′s great commentators."
Pete Ward, Church Times
From the Back Cover
In this new book, Bauman examines how we have moved away from a ′heavy′ and ′solid′, hardware–focused modernity to a ′light′ and ′liquid′, software–based modernity. This passage, he argues, has brought profound change to all aspects of the human condition. The new remoteness and un–reachability of global systemic structure coupled with the unstructured and under–defined, fluid state of the immediate setting of life–politics and human togetherness, call for the rethinking of the concepts and cognitive frames used to narrate human individual experience and their joint history.
This book is dedicated to this task. Bauman selects five of the basic concepts which have served to make sense of shared human life – emancipation, individuality, time/space, work and community – and traces their successive incarnations and changes of meaning.
See all Product description
Liquid Modernity concludes the analysis undertaken in Bauman′s two previous books Globalization: The Human Consequences and In Search of Politics. Together these volumes form a brilliant analysis of the changing conditions of social and political life by one of the most original thinkers writing today.
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These forces, operating under the general rubric of "the global economy" are like gravity or the wind, in that they ride on the ether always just beyond our reach, with no fixed return addresses and immune to our control. The global economy is supposed to answer to only one god, the god of the abstract laws of economic forces. Yet, when the oligarchs come calling, even the rules of economics begin to change decidedly in their favor.
As the global economy continues to float above our societies, with no allegiance or loyalty to any of them, dismantling, reshaping and reordering them as it goes, it has begun to take on a new more sinister and autonomous form. It has become an independent global force unto itself: The personal tool of the autocrats and oligarchs, who benefit from it enormously, but who answer to no one, and give their unfettered allegiance to the almighty dollar (soon to become the almighty Euro and eventually, the almighty Yuan).
The resulting new world order, just like the old one that preceded it, will continue to operate beyond our reach, but with an important twist: We cannot make demands on it because it has no return address; there are no offices, no one to talk to, it operates outside our borders, with only a logo, a passive email box and recorded phone messages.
All that remains recognizable are its trace effect on our lives and the mechanisms that are appealed to in defense of its continued existence. To the visible eye, globalization is just a series of mechanisms, and churning gears, all too complicated for those of us who are being manipulated by them, to understand. It is "releasing the brakes of deregulation," "liberalization of cross border trade," "increased fluidity of the economy," "downsizing," "easing tax burdens," "reducing the depletion allowances," establishing free-trade zones, "going where the labor is cheapest and where there is a comparative advantage," "a comprehensive immigration policy." It is "off-shoring," "decreasing the capital gains taxes," "junk bonds" "hostile take-overs" and "leveraged buy-outs," and of course, everyone's favorite, "out-sourcing."
What this author tells us is that when taken together, these mechanical abstractions all add up to an entirely new ordering of the world, and of American society in particular. This "new passively developed world order" is not one that has come into being by dictatorial rule, or colonial subordination, but by a progressive narrowing of our individual freedom to choose and act -- defined exclusively in "untouchable" economic terms.
Communism used to be bad, but now a Communist country owns two-thirds of all U.S. debts. And as a "carjacker" once told me as he took my BMW: "Your car is now under new management."
If no one has noticed yet, the U.S. is "now under new management." And as creditors, we "democrats" are now obligated to "tap dance" to our new managers, in Beijing. Our norms, as our lives soon will not be our own because the corporations have long since abandon us to our own devices. With only about 25% of our national economy backed up by the production of durable goods, we have become an economic "paper tiger" without anyone even noticing (and the tiger is not worth the paper it is printed on)?
Is this a world upside down, or did I blink and miss something? Have we been sold a "wolf ticket" or was there nothing to democracy all along?" If the amoral corporate state has become our ethical masters, and have abandoned us to our fate, what about abortion, racism, guns, homosexual marriages and all the other things we REALLY care about? Maybe while we have been playing "pocket pool" with ourselves and with all these "non issues," those running the "global economy" have stolen the piggy bank and run off with it to Beijing?
This is not an easy book to read, because the author speaks in "Sociology-speak," which is to say in Pig-latin. Nevertheless, these are ground breaking ideas.
It has some interesting insights about today's world, specially concerning relationships, labour, capital and, most important of all, personal identity.
It clearly searches support in others thinkers, mostly Arendt, Adorno, Bentham and bordieu. It is an accessible book, although some familiarity with those above mentioned will certainly help you.
My complaints are that sometimes he takes the metaphors a little bit to far and in some moments he gets very abstract, and doesn't really say much (or maybe he said a lot and I missed it, hehehe).
To sum it up: I think the book is good, sometimes a little mistifying, but manages to give an interesting set of tools for analyzing current day affairs.
Ps. English is not my native language, so please, bear with my mistakes and odd (let's hope not just plain wrong) grammar.