The legacy of Zygmunt Bauman

I’ve been looking forward to this book for months. The author wrote a fantastic review essay in The Sociological Review. This is the author’s account of his book from the BSA Theory mailing list:

Members of the group may be interested in my new book, the first single-authored critical appraisal of Bauman’s prodigious output. Other single-authored books have been merely exegetical, and given how prolific Bauman was in his later years, are seriously out of date.

As you will see partly from the little blurb that you will find via this link, I critically evaluate, especially, his Holocaust thesis, his conception of ‘Liquid Modernity’, his simplistic views on consumerism, his Eurocentrism and his debilitating lack of interest in issues of gender and race (apart from ant-Semitism) and his negative perspective on the new social movements: feminism, protests by black youth which he dismissed (as did Thatcher, Cameron and The Daily Mail)  as simple acts of criminality (he called: them ‘flawed consumers’ rather than young people protesting against racial discrimination by police and , and so forth. He also regarded the Internet as generally part of the growing lack of civility in social life, thus under-estimating its critical potential, etc, etc

I also discuss his pessimism and ask whether, politically, that is not a constructive position to adopt in our current fraught times.

This, I hope, gives you enough of a flavour of my interpretation, which is somewhat at odds with the many who–not surprisingly, given his two-books-a-year output–simply gave up reading him after his Holocaust book, but looked upon him favourably for his undoubted championing of the down-trodden more generally.

BTW, I also explore critically his Levinas-based views on ethics, his generalisations on globalisation, identity, his analysis of the state (he over-exaggerated the impotence of the state in the face of globalisation), and much much more–he wrote about many, many social phenomena, and I have put all of them under a critical spotlight.

The Sociological Review will be publishing a review symposium on the book; reviews are planned by Theory, Culture and Society, and the US journal Cultural Politics (co-edited by Douglas Kellner), amongst others.

A book launch will take place in October at City, University of London; the book is available from 1 August 2017.

(Professor) Ali Rattansi
(Now) Visiting Professor of Sociology, City, University of London


Categories: Social Theory

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