Un essai incisif du grand sociologue Zygmunt Bauman, père du concept de société liquide, sur la crise des réfugiés.
Depuis toujours, des réfugiés, emmenés par la guerre et la faim, toquent à la porte de mieux lotis. Pour ceux qui se trouvent derrière ces portes, ces importuns ont toujours d'abord été des étrangers, des étrangers porteurs de peur et d'angoisse.
Nous sommes, aujourd'hui, confrontés à une forme extrême de ce motif historique. Alors que les médias sont obsédés par une " crise migratoire " qui menacerait notre mode de vie, on voit naître une véritable panique morale. L'idée que le bien-être de nos sociétés est menacée est désormais largement répandue.
C'est cette panique morale que dissèque Zygmunt Bauman dans ce petit essai incisif paru en 2016.
Il revient sur la manière dont hommes et femmes politiques ont exploité la peur pour la répandre d'abord chez les plus déshérités d'entre nous. À ceux-là, on promet d'ériger des murs, non des ponts. Mais si cette promesse rassure à court terme, elle est condamnée à l'échec sur le long terme.
Car la crise à laquelle nous sommes confrontés concerne l'humanité dans son ensemble. Nous sommes, plus que jamais, dépendants les uns des autres. Raison pour laquelle il nous faut inventer de nouvelles manières de vivre ensemble.
" Un ouvrage bref et passionné. "
Le livre testament de Zygmunt Bauman, l'un des plus penseurs les plus importants de notre modernité. Une alerte nécessaire sur la tentative de repli et d'idéalisation du passé qui caractérise notre époque.
À la mort de Zygmunt Bauman, en janvier 2017, Roger Pol- Droit soulignait dans le Monde que le lire, c'est toujours " rencontrer une éthique contemporaine sans dogme ni concession ". Philosophe et sociologue aussi érudit qu'inclassable, né en Pologne mais ayant vécu l'essentiel de son existence en Grande-Bretagne, cet intellectuel européen par excellence éclaire notre temps à l'instar d'un Norbert Elias ou d'un Georg Simmel. Rétrotopie, publié à titre posthume quelques mois après sa disparition, peut être considéré comme une manière de testament – et comme une mise en garde de poids.
C'est que Bauman, avant de disparaître, constatait partout un refus général de se confronter véritablement aux grands défis de ce xxie siècle naissant – et, notamment, aux questions soulevées par des flux migratoires. Partout, on observe l'avènement d'une forme d'aspiration rétrograde, la volonté d'en revenir à un passé plus ou moins mythifié : soit le meilleur moyen d'éluder les questions les plus brûlantes tout en entamant un processus de régression possiblement catastrophique. " Le défi de la modernité, nous rappelle Bauman, est de vivre sans illusion et sans être désillusionné. "
Il reste à relever et ce livre nous y aide puissamment.
LA PRESSE EN PARLE
" Avec Retrotopia que Bauman écrivit juste avant de mourir à l'âge de 91 ans, cette grande voix alerte une nouvelle fois sur les mécanismes et les dangers des replis identitaires, rappelle que le sort funeste des migrants est scellé au nôtre, et invite à dépasser la peur pour créer d'urgence de nouvelles utopies. "
" Court, dense, inattendu, voilà un livre qui s'impose comme le testament d'un grand intellectuel européen. "
" Le livre testament du sociologue décédé en 2017, [...][qui] y met en garde contre une "épidémie de nostalgie". "
" On y constate que le fameux sociologue polonais, exilé en Grande-Bretagne, n'avait rien perdu de son étonnante sagacité. ", Brice Couturier,
" Quand nous constatons la liquéfaction des institutions sociales, c'est du Bauman. Quand nous ne savons plus où sont les pouvoirs mais que nous pouvons certifier qu'ils ne sont plus là où nous sommes, c'est du Bauman. " Jean Lebrun,
" Cet ouvrage éclaire brillamment les périls auxquels sont confrontées nos sociétés modernes. Sociétés rongées par une "épidémie de nostalgie". "
" À la fin de sa vie, Bauman s'inquiétait du refus général de se confronter véritablement à un grand défi du nouveau siècle [...]. Retrotopia, [...] essai publié quelques mois après sa mort, [...] peut être tenu pour son testament intellectuel. "
" Sociologue, philosophe, penseur agile et inclassable, Bauman a achevé juste avant de mourir l'essai intitulé Retrotopia. Cette publication posthume confirme, si besoin était, l'extrême acuité de son regard. [...] Quels que soient les prises de distance et les désaccords que ce livre peut susciter, il faut s'y plonger sans hésitation. " Roger-Pol Droit,
" Ni optimisme béat façon " croissante verte ", ni collapsologie paralysante, mais de la lucidité exigeante face aux défis de notre temps. "
Usbek et Rica
" Ce dernier essai du grand sociologue ne se limite pas à offrir des clés de compréhension : il constitue une mise en garde troublante dont on on pourra tirer de nombreux enseignements. Volume refermé, on reste sidéré par l'incroyable lucidité du penseur. "
Notre monde n'a jamais été aussi riche ni si inégalitaire. N'en déplaise aux fondamentalistes de la croissance économique, le fossé continue de se creuser entre les uns, de plus en plus riches, et les autres, de plus en plus pauvres. À l'heure actuelle, une infime minorité de la population mondiale concentre près de la moitié des richesses totales. La « main invisible » des marchés opère pour une petite caste, étranglant tous les autres.
Dans cet essai incisif, Zygmunt Bauman condamne les mirages de la société de consommation, du toujours plus. Il poursuit sa réflexion sur les ravages de la mondialisation, en attaquant les systèmes élitistes. Il montre leur inefficacité économique et sociale, ainsi que les dangers qui pèsent désormais sur la démocratie.
We are spurred into action by our troubles and fears; but all too often our action fails to address the true causes of our worries. When trying to make sense of our lives, we tend to blame our own failings and weaknesses for our discomforts and defeats. And in doing so, we make things worse rather than better. Reasonable beings that we are, how does this happen and why does it go on happening?
These are the questions addressed in this new book by Zygmunt Bauman - one of the most original and perceptive social thinkers writing today. For Bauman, the task of sociology is not to censor or correct the stories we tell of our lives, but to show that there are more ways in which our life stories can be told. By bringing into view the many complex dependencies invisible from the vantage point of private experience, sociology can help us to link our individual decisions and actions to the deeper causes of our troubles and fears - to the ways we live, to the conditions under which we act, to the socially drawn limits of our imagination and ambition. Sociology can help us to understand the processes that have shaped the society in which we live today, a society in which individualization has become our fate. And sociology can also help us to see that if our individual but shared anxieties are to be effectively tackled, they need to be addressed collectively, true to their social, not individual, nature.
The Individualized Society will be of great interest to students of sociology, politics and the social sciences and humanities generally. It will also appeal to a broader range of readers who are interested in the changing nature of our social and political life today.
'Globalization' is a word that is currently much in use. This book is an attempt to show that there is far more to globalization than its surface manifestations. Unpacking the social roots and social consequences of globalizing processes, this book disperses some of the mist that surrounds the term.
Alongside the emerging planetary dimensions of business, finance, trade and information flow, a 'localizing', space-fixing process is set in motion. What appears as globalization for some, means localization for many others; signalling new freedom for some, globalizing processes appear as uninvited and cruel fate for many others. Freedom to move, a scarce and unequally distributed commodity, quickly becomes the main stratifying factor of our times.
Neo-tribal and fundamentalist tendencies are as legitimate offspring of globalization as the widely acclaimed 'hybridization' of top culture - the culture at the globalized top. A particular reason to worry is the progressive breakdown in communication between the increasingly global and extra- territorial elites and ever more 'localized' majority. The bulk of the population, the 'new middle class', bears the brunt of these problems, and suffers uncertainty, anxiety and fear as a result.
This book is a major contribution to the unfolding debate about globalization, and as such will be of interest to students and professionals in sociology, human geography and cultural issues.
With the advent of liquid modernity, the society of producers is transformed into a society of consumers. In this new consumer society, individuals become simultaneously the promoters of commodities and the commodities they promote. They are, at one and the same time, the merchandise and the marketer, the goods and the travelling salespeople. They all inhabit the same social space that is customarily described by the term the market.
The test they need to pass in order to acquire the social prizes they covet requires them to recast themselves as products capable of drawing attention to themselves. This subtle and pervasive transformation of consumers into commodities is the most important feature of the society of consumers. It is the hidden truth, the deepest and most closely guarded secret, of the consumer society in which we now live. In this new book Zygmunt Bauman examines the impact of consumerist attitudes and patterns of conduct on various apparently unconnected aspects of social life politics and democracy, social divisions and stratification, communities and partnerships, identity building, the production and use of knowledge, and value preferences.
The invasion and colonization of the web of human relations by the worldviews and behavioural patterns inspired and shaped by commodity markets, and the sources of resentment, dissent and occasional resistance to the occupying forces, are the central themes of this brilliant new book by one of the worlds most original and insightful social thinkers.
Sketches in the Theory of Culture is a remarkable work by all measures. Written by Zygmunt Bauman when he was still a professor in Poland, and originally intended for publication in 1968, it was suppressed by the Polish government in the wave of repression following the protests in March of that year. For decades, it was thought to be lost. Astonishingly, it survived in the form of an uncorrected set of proofs which was recently discovered, and is the basis of this edition.
Now published in English for the first time, this book sheds new light on Bauman’s work prior to his emigration and illuminates the intellectual climate of Poland in the late 1960s. Bauman’s pursuit of a semiotic theory of culture includes a discussion of processes of individualization and the intensification of global ties, anticipating themes that became central to his later work. Though this book stands as a testament to a historical moment, it also transcends it. ‘[W]e live in an age that seems, for the first time in human history, to acknowledge cultural multiplicity as an innate and fixed feature of the world, one which gives rise to new forms of identity that are at ease with plurality, like a fish in water’, writes Bauman – a statement that is as true today as it was when he penned it in the 1960s.
Sketches in the Theory of Culture is a strikingly prescient reflection on culture and society by one of the most influential social thinkers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It will appeal to students and scholars across the social sciences and humanities and to the many readers of Bauman’s work.
Zygmunt Bauman's new book is a brilliant exploration, from a sociological point of view, of the 'taboo' subject in modern societies: death and dying. The book develops a new theory of the ways in which human mortality is reacted to, and dealt with, in social institutions and culture. The hypothesis explored in the book is that the necessity of human beings to live with the constant awareness of death accounts for crucial aspects of the social organization of all known societies. Two different 'life strategies' are distinguished in respect of reactions to mortality. One, 'the modern strategy', deconstructs mortality by translating the insoluble issue of death into many specific problems of health and disease which are 'soluble in principle'. The 'post-modern strategy' is one of deconstructing immortality: life is transformed into a constant rehearsal of 'reversible death', a substitution of 'temporary disappearance' for the irrevocable termination of life. This profound and provocative book will appeal to a wide audience. It will also be of particular interest to students and professionals in the areas of sociology, anthropology, theology and philosophy.
'Liquid life' is the kind of life commonly lived in our contemporary, liquid-modern society. Liquid life cannot stay on course, as liquid-modern society cannot keep its shape for long. Liquid life is a precarious life, lived under conditions of constant uncertainty. The most acute and stubborn worries that haunt this liquid life are the fears of being caught napping, of failing to catch up with fast moving events, of overlooking the `use by' dates and being saddled with worthless possessions, of missing the moment calling for a change of tack and being left behind. Liquid life is also shot through by a contradiction: it ought to be a (possibly unending) series of new beginnings, yet precisely for that reason it is full of worries about swift and painless endings, without which new beginnings would be unthinkable. Among the arts of liquid-modern living and the skills needed to practice them, getting rid of things takes precedence over their acquisition. This and other challenges of life in a liquid-modern society are traced and unravelled in the successive chapters of this new book by one of the most brilliant and original social thinkers of our time.
Modern civilization, Bauman argues, promised to make our lives understandable and open to our control. This has not happened and today we no longer believe it ever will. In this book, now available in paperback, Bauman argues that our postmodern age is the time for reconciliation with ambivalence, we must learn how to live in an incurably ambiguous world.
The global financial crisis has shattered the illusion that all was well with capitalism and forced us to confront the great challenges we face today with a new sense of urgency. Few are better placed to do this than Zygmunt Bauman, a social thinker whose writings on liquid modernity have pioneered a new way of seeing the world in which we live at the dawn of the 21st Century. Our liquid modern world is characterized by the transition from a society of producers to a society of consumers, the natural extension of which is the society of perpetual debtors. The ruling idea of the society of consumers is to prevent needs from being satisfied and to create demand; its natural extension is to enable consumers to consume more by borrowing. Debt was transformed into a crucial profit-earning asset of capitalism in liquid modern times. The present-day 'credit crunch' is not the outcome of the banks' failure but rather the fruit of their success in transforming the majority of men and women, young and old, into a race of debtors. They got what they were looking for: a society of debtors whose condition of being in debt was made self-perpetuating, with more debts being offered, and more undertaken, as the only way of escaping from the debts already incurred. Starting from this reflection on the current global financial crisis and prompted by the probing questions of his interlocutor, Citlali Rovirosa-Madrazo, Bauman examines in an historical perspective some of the most pressing moral and political issues of our time, from international terrorism and the rise of religious and secular fundamentalism to the decline of the nation-state and the threats posed by global warming, issues whose seriousness and urgency attest to the fact that we are living today not only on borrowed money but also on borrowed time.
The production of `human waste' - or more precisely, wasted lives, the `superfluous' populations of migrants, refugees and other outcasts - is an inevitable outcome of modernization. It is an unavoidable side-effect of economic progress and the quest for order which is characteristic of modernity.
As long as large parts of the world remained wholly or partly unaffected by modernization, they were treated by modernizing societies as lands that were able to absorb the excess of population in the `developed countries'. Global solutions were sought, and temporarily found, to locally produced overpopulation problems. But as modernization has reached the furthest lands of the planet, `redundant population' is produced everywhere and all localities have to bear the consequences of modernity's global triumph. They are now confronted with the need to seek - in vain, it seems - local solutions to globally produced problems. The global spread of the modernity has given rise to growing quantities of human beings who are deprived of adequate means of survival, but the planet is fast running out of places to put them. Hence the new anxieties about `immigrants' and `asylum seekers' and the growing role played by diffuse `security fears' on the contemporary political agenda.
With characteristic brilliance, this new book by Zygmunt Bauman unravels the impact of this transformation on our contemporary culture and politics and shows that the problem of coping with `human waste' provides a key for understanding some otherwise baffling features of our shared life, from the strategies of global domination to the most intimate aspects of human relationships.
It is commonly assumed that the best way to help the poor out of their misery is to allow the rich to get richer, that if the rich pay less taxes then all the rest of us will be better off, and that in the final analysis the richness of the few benefits us all. And yet these commonly held beliefs are flatly contradicted by our daily experience, an abundance of research findings and, indeed, logic. Such bizarre discrepancy between hard facts and popular opinions makes one pause and ask: why are these opinions so widespread and resistant to accumulated and fast-growing evidence to the contrary?
This short book is by one of the world's leading social thinkers is an attempt to answer this question. Bauman lists and scrutinizes the tacit assumptions and unreflected-upon convictions upon which such opinions are grounded, finding them one by one to be false, deceitful and misleading. Their persistence could be hardly sustainable were it not for the role they play in defending - indeed, promoting and reinforcing - the current, unprecedented, indefensible and still accelerating growth in social inequality and the rapidly widening gap between the elite of the rich and the rest of society.
We live in a world which no longer questions itself, which lives from one day to another managing successive crises and struggling to brace itself for new ones, without knowing where it is going and without trying to plan the itinerary. And everything important in our lives - livelihood, human bonds, partnerships, neighbourhood, goals worth pursuing and dangers to avoid - feels transient, precarious, vulnerable, insecure, uncertain, risky. Is there a connection between the shape of the world we inhabit and the way we live our lives? Exploring that connection, and finding out just how close it is, is the main concern of this book.
What is at stake in this inquiry is the possibility of re-building the"'private/public" space, where private troubles and public issues meet and where citizens engage in dialogue in order to govern themselves. Individual liberty can only be a product of collective work, it can only be collectively secured and guaranteed. And yet today we are moving towards a privatization of the means to secure individual liberty. If seen as a therapy for the present ills, this is bound to produce effects of a most sinister kind. The act of translating private troubles into public issues is in danger of falling into disuse and being forgotten. The argument of this book is that making the translation possible again is an urgent and vital imperative for the renewal of politics today. This new book by Zygmunt Bauman - one of the most original and creative thinkers of our time - will be of particular interest to students of sociology, politics and social and political theory.
Society is under siege - under attack on two fronts: from the global frontier-land where old structures and rules do not hold and new ones are slow to take shape, and from the fluid, undefined domain of life politics. The space between these two fronts, until recently ruled by the sovereign nation-state and identified by social scientists as `society' is ever more difficult to conceive of as a self-enclosed entity. And this confronts the established wisdom of the social sciences with a new challenge: sovereignty and power are becoming separated from the politics of the territorial nation-state but are not becoming institutionalized in a new space. What are the consequences of this profound transformation of social life? What kind of world will it create for the twenty-first century?
This remarkable book - by one of the most original social thinkers writing today - attempts to trace this transformation and to assess its consequences for the life conditions of ordinary individuals. The first part of the book is devoted to the new global arena in which, thanks to the powerful forces of globalization, there is no 'outside', no secluded place to which one can retreat and hide away, and where the territorial wars of the past have given way to a new breed of 'reconnaissance wars'. The second part deals with settings in which life politics has taken hold and flourished. Bauman argues that the great challenge facing us today is whether we can find new ways to reforge the human diversity that is our fate into the vocation of human solidarity.
More than ever before, our conflict-ridden, drifting planet needs the qualities that Europe, unique among the continents, has developed in more than two millennia of history: its self-criticism, its urge to self-transcendence, exploration and experiment, its conviction that alternative and better forms of human togetherness can be achieved, as well as its dedication to the cause of seeking and promoting this improvement in practice. But today Europe is unsure of itself and its place in a fast-changing world; it is devoid of vision, limited in resources and lacking the will to pursue its vocation. It is also struggling with the consequences of a one-sided process of globalization which is divorcing power from politics, inciting the shift from the social state to security-focused governance and piling up the casualties of uncontrolled market expansion and the ethically blind commercialization of human life.
Bauman argues that despite the odds Europe still has much to offer in dealing with the great challenges that face us in the twenty-first century. Through sharing its own hard-won historical lessons, Europe can play a vital role in moving from the Hobbesian-like world in which we find ourselves today towards the kind of peaceful unification of humanity that was once envisioned by Kant.
In our individualized society we are all artists of life - whether we know it or not, will it or not and like it or not, by decree of society if not by our own choice. In this society we are all expected, rightly or wrongly, to give our lives purpose and form by using our own skills and resources, even if we lack the tools and materials with which artists' studios need to be equipped for the artist's work to be conceived and executed. And we are praised or censured for the results - for what we have managed or failed to accomplish and for what we have achieved and lost.
In our liquid modern society we are also taught to believe that the purpose of the art of life should be and can be happiness - though it's not clear what happiness is, the images of a happy state keep changing and the state of happiness remains most of the time something yet-to-be-reached. This new book by Zygmunt Bauman - one of the most original and influential social thinkers writing today - is not a book of designs for the art of life nor a `how to' book: the construction of a design for life and the way it is pursued is and cannot but be an individual responsibility and individual accomplishment. It is instead a brilliant account of conditions under which our designs-for-life are chosen, of the constraints that might be imposed on their choice and of the interplay of design, accident and character that shape their implementation. Last but not least, it is a study of the ways in which our society - the liquid modern, individualized society of consumers - influences (but does not determine) the way we construct and narrate our life trajectories.
This liquid modern world of ours, like all liquids, cannot stand still and keep its shape for long. Everything keeps changing - the fashions we follow, the events that intermittently catch our attention, the things we dream of and things we fear. And we, the inhabitants of this world in flux, feel the need to adjust to its tempo by being `flexible' and constantly ready to change. We want to know what is going on and what is likely to happen, but what we get is an avalanche of information that threatens to overwhelm us. How are we to sift the information that really matters from the heaps of useless and irrelevant rubbish? How are we to derive meaningful messages from senseless noise?
We face the daunting task of trying to distinguish the important from the insubstantial, distil the things that matter from false alarms and flashes in the pan.
Nothing escapes scrutiny so stubbornly as the ordinary things of everyday life, hiding in the light of deceptive and misleading familiarity. To turn them into objects of attention and scrutiny, they must first be torn out from that daily routine: the apparently familiar must be made strange. This is precisely what Zygmunt Bauman seeks to do in these 44 letters: each tells a story drawn from ordinary lives, but tells it in order to reveal an extraordinariness that we might otherwise overlook. Arresting, revealing, disconcerting, these snapshots of life by the most brilliant analyst of our liquid modern world will appeal to a wide readership.
This is not a diary: while these observations were recorded in autumn 2010 and spring 2011 in the form of dated entries, they are not a personal reflection but an attempt to capture signs of our times in their movement - possibly at birth, at a stage when they are still barely perceptible, and in any case before they have matured into common, all too familiar forms, escaping our attention due to their banality. Some will perhaps settle in our daily life for a long time to come, others will fade and vanish before they would otherwise have a chance to be noted, recorded and explored in depth: in our fast-moving, protean and kaleidoscopic world, it is hardly possible to predict their future course and to decide in advance which of them will grow in volume and significance and which will prove to have been still-born. Whatever their fate, the author tried to take a leaf from William Blake's precept of seeing the universe in a grain of sand - and, having done so, alert us to what is or may be happening to our individual lives, forms of togetherness, shared prospects; to the ways we perceive and relate to each other, the forces that shape our life chances and itineraries; and to the ways we try to control, or at least influence, and sometimes even reform for the better, some or all those dimensions of our existence. These timely meditations by one of the most perceptive social thinkers of our time will appeal to a wide range of readers.
In its original formulation, `culture' was intended to be an agent for change, a mission undertaken with the aim of educating `the people' by bringing the best of human thought and creativity to them. But in our contemporary liquid-modern world, culture has lost its missionary role and has become a means of seduction: it seeks no longer to enlighten the people but to seduce them. The function of culture today is not to satisfy existing needs but to create new ones, while simultaneously ensuring that existing needs remain permanently unfulfilled. Culture today likens itself to a giant department store where the shelves are overflowing with desirable goods that are changed on a daily basis - just long enough to stimulate desires whose gratification is perpetually postponed. In this new book, Zygmunt Bauman - one of the most brilliant and influential social thinkers of our time - retraces the peregrinations of the concept of culture and examines its fate in a world marked by the powerful new forces of globalization, migration and the intermingling of populations. He argues that Europe has a particularly important role to play in revitalizing our understanding of culture, precisely because Europe, with its great diversity of peoples, languages and histories, is the space where the Other is always one's neighbour and where each is constantly called upon to learn from everyone else.
Sociology is concerned with modern society, but has never come to terms with one of the most distinctive and horrific aspects of modernity - the Holocaust. The book examines what sociology can teach us about the Holocaust, but more particularly concentrates upon the lessons which the Holocaust has for sociology. Bauman's work demonstrates that the Holocaust has to be understood as deeply involved with the nature of modernity. There is nothing comparable to this work available in the sociological literature.
The term `collateral damage' has recently been added to the vocabulary of military forces to refer to the unintended consequences of armed interventions, consequences that are unplanned but nevertheless damaging and often very costly in human and personal terms. But collateral damage is not unique to the world of armed intervention - it is also one of the most salient and striking dimensions of contemporary social inequality. The inflammable mixture of growing social inequality and the rising volume of human suffering marginalized as `collateral' is becoming one of most cataclysmic problems of our time. For the political class, poverty is commonly seen as a problem of law and order - a matter of how to deal with individuals, such as unemployed youths, who fall foul of the law. But treating poverty as a criminal problem obscures the social roots of inequality, which lie in the combination of a consumerist life philosophy propagated and instilled by a consumer-oriented economy, on the one hand, and the rapid shrinking of life chances available to the poor, on the other. In our contemporary, liquid-modern world, the poor are the collateral damage of a profit-driven, consumer-oriented society - `aliens inside' who are deprived of the rights enjoyed by other members of the social order. In this new book Zygmunt Bauman - one of the most original and influential social thinkers of our time - examines the selective affinity between the growth of social inequality and the rise in the volume of `collateral damage' and considers its implications and its costs.
Modernity was supposed to be the period in human history when the fears that pervaded social life in the past could be left behind and human beings could at last take control of their lives and tame the uncontrolled forces of the social and natural worlds. And yet, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, we live again in a time of fear. Whether its the fear of natural disasters, the fear of environmental catastrophes or the fear of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, we live today in a state of constant anxiety about the dangers that could strike unannounced and at any moment. Fear is the name we give to our uncertainty in the face of the dangers that characterize our liquid modern age, to our ignorance of what the threat is and our incapacity to determine what can and can't be done to counter it.
This new book by Zygmunt Bauman one of the foremost social thinkers of our time is an inventory of liquid modern fears. It is also an attempt to uncover their common sources, to analyse the obstacles that pile up on the road to their discovery and to examine the ways of putting them out of action or rendering them harmless.
Through his brilliant account of the fears and anxieties that weigh on us today, Bauman alerts us to the scale of the task which we shall have to confront through most of the current century if we wish our fellow humans to emerge at its end feeling more secure and self-confident than we feel at its beginning.
This book is about the central figure of our contemporary, `liquid modern' times - the man or woman with no bonds, and particularly with none of the fixed or durable bonds that would allow the effort of self-definition and self-assertion to come to a rest. Having no permanent bonds, the denizen of our liquid modern society must tie whatever bonds they can to engage with others, using their own wits, skill and dedication. But none of these bonds are guaranteed to last. Moreover, they must be tied loosely so that they can be untied again, quickly and as effortlessly as possible, when circumstances change - as they surely will in our liquid modern society, over and over again.
The uncanny frailty of human bonds, the feeling of insecurity that frailty inspires, and the conflicting desires to tighten the bonds yet keep them loose, are the principal themes of this important new book by Zygmunt Bauman, one of the most original and influential social thinkers of our time. It will be of great interest to students and scholars in sociology and in the social sciences and humanities generally, and it will appeal to anyone interested in the changing nature of human relationships.