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Liquid Modernity Paperback – June 8, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0745624105 ISBN-10: 0745624103 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (June 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745624103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745624105
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"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."

Contemporary Politics

"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, hasbrought profound change to all aspects of the human condition. Thenew remoteness and un-reachability of global systemic structurecoupled with the unstructured and under-defined, fluid state of theimmediate setting of life-politics and human togetherness, call forthe rethinking of the concepts and cognitive frames used to narratehuman individual experience and their joint history.

This book is dedicated to this task. Bauman selects five of thebasic concepts which have served to make sense of shared human life- emancipation, individuality, time/space, work and community - andtraces their successive incarnations and changes of meaning.

Liquid Modernity concludes the analysis undertaken inBauman's two previous books Globalization: The HumanConsequences and In Search of Politics. Together thesevolumes form a brilliant analysis of the changing conditions ofsocial and political life by one of the most original thinkerswriting today.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Tom Gray on July 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
Bauman makes a distinction between solid and the liquid modernity of his title. The book is analysis in several sections of the effect of society in Bauman's terms becoming liquid. Previously people were immersed in solid societies that produced the norms by which people lived. People could structure their lives by being members of their society and could measure their success by measuring themselves against their society's norms.
Bauman gives an account of how modernity's emphaisis on the individual has resulted in the destruction of these norms all in the name of giving freedom and self-determination to the individual. However this freedom and self-determination is in many ways illusional. Society may have restricted an individual but in many ways it enabled the indiviual by supplying the support and infrastrcture for them to live their lives. Now indviduals are are on their own. They must construct themselves from the beginning without support and as Bauman points out they must not only construct themseleves they must construct the measures that allow them to assess the meaning and success of their lives. They are bound by their own freedom.
Bauman shows how the loss of interdependency is enabled by technologies that are not dependent on proximity. Long lasting relationships and societies are built by people who have to find ways to live together and face the exigencies of their physical and ecomomic environments. Woth modern technolgy the dependence on territory is diminished and the technologially and economically enabled can simply move from one opportunity to another and are not tied to the economic fortunes of any one partcular territory. Those tied to a territory are fated to experience booms and busts with no long lasting support from society.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By trish on August 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I found Bauman's book titled Globalization: The Human Consequences such an articulate description of the the way that globalisation has ravaged poor communities that I could not resist getting Liquid Modernity. I am certainly not dissappointed.
In this new book Bauman addresses the shifts in some of the large social concepts which effect human identity and our relationships with one another: emancipation, individuality, time/space, work and community. Bauman makes sense for me of the way the world is speeding up for some people whilst others are becoming immobilised: of what on the one hand seems to be "progress" and on the other seems to "annihilation of human care. He is very clear about the problematic of this, among other things, and often gives hopeful hints about ways to proceed.
This book is not a light read, thank goodness - but a thorough analysis of what at times seems so bewildering.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Herbert L Calhoun on April 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Our freedoms are being slowly eroded away by passive, invisible forces that have taken a strangle hold over every aspect of our existence, and have, in the process, stripped away all but the last vestiges of the traditional political, ethical, and cultural attachments that have come to represent the normal American social life, including its norms. In the metaphor of this author, our freedoms are being liquefied and then stolen by a collusion of rational economic forces that exists above our heads, but always under the aegis of being in our best national and individual economic interests. Yet, they continuously and progressively melt our freedoms and our social lives away, looking out only for the interests of a handful of international oligarchs.

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).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an important contribution to our understandings of modern society. Zygmunt Bauman is an eloquent and powerful thinker whose work is extremely influential.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Francisco Toniazzo Machiavelli on August 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First of all, I'm not a sociologist (far from it, actually), so this is a layman review.

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.
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