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The passage from 'solid' to 'liquid' modernity has created a new and unprecedented setting for individual life pursuits, confronting individuals with a series of challenges never before encountered. Social forms and institutions no longer have enough time to solidify and cannot serve as frames of reference for human actions and long-term life plans, so individuals have to find other ways to organise their lives. They have to splice together an unending series of short-term projects and episodes that don't add up to the kind of sequence to which concepts like 'career' and 'progress' could meaningfully be applied. Such fragmented lives require individuals to be flexible and adaptable - to be constantly ready and willing to change tactics at short notice, to abandon commitments and loyalties without regret and to pursue opportunities according to their current availability. In liquid modernity the individual must act, plan actions and calculate the likely gains and losses of acting (or failing to act) under conditions of endemic uncertainty. 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.
Zygmunt Bauman's writings on liquid modernity have altered the way we think about the contemporary world. In this book, he explores the sources of the endemic uncertainty which shapes our lives and, in so doing, he provides the reader with a brief introduction to his original account, developed at greater length in his previous books.
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. 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.
There is nothing new about evil; it has been with us since time immemorial. But there is something new about the kind of evil that characterizes our contemporary liquid-modern world. The evil that characterized earlier forms of solid modernity was concentrated in the hands of states claiming monopolies on the means of coercion and using the means at their disposal to pursue their ends ends that were at times horrifically brutal and barbaric. In our contemporary liquid-modern societies, by contrast, evil has become altogether more pervasive and at the same time less visible. Liquid evil hides in the seams of the canvass woven daily by the liquid-modern mode of human interaction and commerce, conceals itself in the very tissue of human cohabitation and in the course of its routine and day-to-day reproduction. Evil lurks in the countless black holes of a thoroughly deregulated and privatized social space in which cutthroat competition and mutual estrangement have replaced cooperation and solidarity, while forceful individualization erodes the adhesive power of inter-human bonds. In its present form evil is hard to spot, unmask and resist. It seduces us by its ordinariness and then jumps out without warning, striking seemingly at random. The result is a social world that is comparable to a minefield: we know it is full of explosives and that explosions will happen sooner or later but we have no idea when and where they will occur. In this new book, the sequel to their acclaimed work Moral Blindness Zygmunt Bauman and Leonidas Donskis guide the reader through this new terrain in which evil has become both more ordinary and more insidious, threatening to strip humanity of its dreams, alternative projects and powers of dissent at the very time when they are needed most.
Refugees from the violence of wars and the brutality of famished lives have knocked on other people's doors since the beginning of time. For the people behind the doors, these uninvited guests were always strangers, and strangers tend to generate fear and anxiety precisely because they are unknown. Today we find ourselves confronted with an extreme form of this historical dynamic, as our TV screens and newspapers are filled with accounts of a 'migration crisis', ostensibly overwhelming Europe and portending the collapse of our way of life. This anxious debate has given rise to a veritable 'moral panic' - a feeling of fear spreading among a large number of people that some evil threatens the well-being of society. 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.
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.
‘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.

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