Zygmunt Bauman’s optimism and its significance for agency in liquid modernity

Dawson, Matt (2010) Zygmunt Bauman’s optimism and its significance for agency in liquid modernity. In: Rethinking Global Society: The Bauman Institute International Launch Conference, 6-7th September, Leeds, UK.

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Abstract

Bauman’s work on liquid modernity has often been categorised as a bleak worldview; one of ‘misery’ (Schultz 2007). Such misery is often attributed to: his earlier work on the holocaust, the decoupling of politics and power and the all-conquering nature of the society of consumers. This paper argues assigning pessimism and misery to Bauman’s view of liquid modernity relies on a somewhat limited reading, specifically one which doesn’t fully consider his work on ethics and its significance for liquid modernity. When this is accounted for Bauman can be seen to have an optimistic, yet critical, worldview. The significance of such an observation rests on where Bauman’s optimism lies: in the hands of inevitably moral individuals who can acquiesce to, reject, or modify the demands of liquid modernity. Therefore this paper will argue this is where the potential for agency (particularly political agency) lies in Bauman’s work.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Depositing User: Matt Dawson
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2012 16:55
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2012 12:11
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/37046
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