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.
Zygmunt Bauman's brilliant writings on liquid modernity have altered the way we think about the contemporary world. In this short book he explores the sources of the endemic uncertainty which shapes our lives today and, in so doing, he provides the reader with a brief and accessible introduction to his highly original account, developed at greater length in his previous books, of life in our liquid modern times.
In this short book Zygmunt Bauman analyses the origins, contours and impact of this moral panic - he dissects, in short, the present-day migration panic. He shows how politicians have exploited fears and anxieties that have become widespread, especially among those who have already lost so much - the disinherited and the poor. But he argues that the policy of mutual separation, of building walls rather than bridges, is misguided. It may bring some short-term reassurance but it is doomed to fail in the long run. We are faced with a crisis of humanity, and the only exit from this crisis is to recognize our growing interdependence as a species and to find new ways to live together in solidarity and cooperation, amidst strangers who may hold opinions and preferences different from our own.
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.
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.
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.
We are living in the interregnum between what is no longer and what is not yet. None of the political movements that helped undermine the old world are ready to inherit it, and there is no new ideology, no consistent vision, promising to give shape to new institutions for the new world. It is like the Babylon referred to by Borges, the country of randomness and uncertainty in which ‘no decision is final; all branch into others’. Out of the world that had promised us modernity, what Jean Paul Sartre had summarized with sublime formula ‘le choix que je suis’ (‘the choice that I am’), we inhabit that flattened, mobile and dematerialized space, where as never before the principle of the heterogenesis of purposes is sovereign.
This is Babel.