Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Liquid Modernity” as Want to Read:
Liquid Modernity
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Liquid Modernity

(Liquid Series)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  3,099 ratings  ·  237 reviews
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, f ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 8th 2000 by Polity Press (first published 1999)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Liquid Modernity, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Francisco Bauman's work is rooted in Critical Theory. Fromm has been a member of the "Institut für Sozialforschung" (Frankfurt), along with Adorno, Horkheimer, …moreBauman's work is rooted in Critical Theory. Fromm has been a member of the "Institut für Sozialforschung" (Frankfurt), along with Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse and others, the fathers of the Frankfurt School and Critical Theory. Thus, you could say Bauman's work is loosely indebted to Fromm.
But Fromm parted from this 'school' and his intellectual sources moved away from Hegel, Marx & other philosophers Adorno et al. based their work on. For example, in "To Have or to Be?" he explores the work of German mystic Meister Eckhart (something he shared with Adorno's major intellectual opponent in the young BRD, Martin Heidegger). apart from the very general line of attack, the differences between Bauman and Fromm may be larger than their similarities.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,099 ratings  ·  237 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Liquid Modernity
Trevor (I sometimes get notified of comments)
I’ve done other reviews on Bauman’s books and have mentioned his theory of ‘the liquid modern’, but given the title of this one, it would be impossible to not mention it again. For Bauman, the enlightenment was the birth of the modern. It was about removing the old certainties and replacing them with new certainties – replacing solid for solid. These new certainties would be based on the most up-to-date science and therefore be a manifestation of pure reason. As such they could be expected to la ...more
Sep 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Can you give us a theory of postmodernity without using the word? Coming in as a relatively late entry, almost as a coda to the debate, Liquid Modernity is likely the best theory on modernity and postmodernity that I've read and recasts and reinterprets the earlier theories in its light. Much of the original debates about postmodernity, as the theories were rooted in cultural and literary criticism, were actually about art and literary works qua cultural artifacts; so, Bauman has made considerab ...more
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
I had heard a lot of positive opinions about Bauman's scholarship, and I'm bitterly dissapointed. First of all, this is no scholarship at all. About 30% of references are missing from the book, notes are incomplete, in some cases there are no references even for direct lengthy quotations (is it even legal?). Secondly, it's not proper sociology, as the opinions (I cannot call them scholarly conclusions) are not based on research. I am not sure now if Bauman did any scientific research at all. Thi ...more
Priscila Jordão
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Liquid Modernity is surely a pleasant sociology work to read, especially because Bauman's metaphor of liquidity seems perfect for describing the world's situation nowadays and is really poetic at the same time.

But although the author gave me many insights about our way of living, such as the way we treat people and relationships as they were products that are supposed to give us satisfaction and nothing more, the book sounds too pessimistic.

Bauman doesn't suggest almost any path we can follow
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
"Let there be no mistake: now, as before - in the fluid and light as much as in the solid and heavy stage of modernity - individualization is a fate, not a choice. In the land of the individual freedom of choice the option to escape individualization and to refuse participation in the individualizing game is emphatically not on the agenda.
The individual's self-containment and self-sufficiency may be another illusion: that men and women have no one to blame for their frustrations and troubles doe
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
It’s a curse of particularly revelatory books that, once they age a bit, reading them starts to feel a bit redundant since many of their conclusions have already filtered into the broader culture. This is how I felt reading about Baumann’s concept of Liquid Modernity, which already felt so familiar to me from reading about it in a dozen other places, even if it was not explicitly described as such.

Baumann’s thesis is that the fundamental characteristic of modernity is its constant change. Wherea
I don't get why Bauman is considered such a brilliant intellectual, when his most famous book lacks both substance and rigorous research work. You can find tons of books or academic articles published in the social sciences that make him look like an amateur.
Both the content and the arguments in "Liquid Modernity" are flimsy and vague, when not just banal. It seems like Bauman just invented a cool sounding, marketable concept, and then had to fill pages and pages to justify its existence.
My sens
David M
Jan 11, 2017 marked it as to-read
"Like the phoenix, socialism is reborn from every pile of ashes left day in, day out, by burnt-out human dreams and charred hopes."
- Zygmunt Bauman, RIP
19 November 1925 – 9 January 2017
May 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
The points Bauman makes in this text are largely very basic, and have been explored in depth by many other theorists previously. He consistently uses terms without defining them, and unnecessarily elongates simple points. The entire book revolves around one very simple concept, which only really needs ten pages explanation, but instead gets 216 devoted pages.

While some points are relevant, many actually make little to no sense, or he goes off on such a tangent that he never comes back to explain
Miroslaw Aleksander
Oct 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
Before Liquid Modernity I’ve read several shorter works by Bauman. I didn’t find them ground-breaking, but they had their strong points. I was anticipating something more from this book, which is considered as one of his more important works.

Liquid Modernity proved to be a frustrating and disappointing read, flawed in many ways. Bauman’s knowledge is based on newspaper articles, casual observations and interpretations found in books written by others. He is selective with his material, and manip
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sociology
There is little that exercised the minds of critical and pop theorists more in the last 30 years that our current stage of modernity – is it post-modernity (with or without the hyphen), late modernity (in the manner of Frederic Jameson), is it incomplete modernity (for those of us who’ve read our Habermas) or if none of the above, then what? The debates have been frenetic, the status of apostles and their leaders’ foundational texts hotly disputed with allegations of fraudulent or flawed analysi ...more
Georgina Lara
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Some of my favourite books are the ones who help me make sense of the world around me. In this case Bauman, someone who has thought about this new state of modernity, showed me the new characteristics of this world —its institutions and relationships— as well as how we relate to them and the impact they have. He is not judgemental, he limits his book to point out how the world is now and it left me with the insight that just as the world is different from the previous "solid" period, this "fluid ...more
Federico Giovannini
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece of contemporary sociology.
Steen Ledet
Apr 16, 2017 rated it liked it
There's good stuff here, it's just obscured by tangents, aphorisms, and verbosity. ...more
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite books of the year! Thought-provoking and accessible. I’ve already recommended it to a lot of people.
Sergio Alonso De Leon
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The author certainly had foresight on the trend on which society has enbarked upon. I cannot say I agree with the central line of the book, which is a society becoming more rootless , individualistic and insecure and thus entering a negative spiral. I think the trend has positive and negative elements. I miss the appreciation of a new society which liberates certain groups and individuals from an old pattern that probably limitted their personality and purpose in life. That said, the book is elo ...more
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Clearly I'm not paranoid enough. Very insightful book. ...more
Nov 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
he uses the metaphor 'fly in the otherwise tasty ointment' 3 times in this book. did zygmunt bauman eat ointment ...more
Aayush Raj
"The favourite strategic principles of the powers-that-be are nowadays escape, avoidance and disengagement, and their ideal condition is invisibility."

There couldn't have been a better interpretation of the contemporary times than what is reflected in these lines above. (And aren't we all witnessing this more in the current Indian scenario than ever; pandemic laying bare the stark realities for the globe to see, and powers that be not to think.) This book runs deeper; deeper than our thoughts, d
Oliver Bateman
Nov 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
a useful snapshot of the "state of the state of theory" at the turn of the 21st century. bauman presents a fairly pessimistic evaluation of changes in work, time, community, &c. during the transition from "solid" or "heavy" to liquid modernity, making his points by drawing on/summarizing/complicating the work of pierre bourdieu ("the weight of the world"), richard sennett ("the fall of public man" and "the corrosion of conformity"), and many others. the book concludes with an excellent rebuke of ...more
mimosa maoist
One of the best theories of late modernity, and certainly the most enjoyable to read.
Yan Castaldo
Oct 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
ok so the prose in this book is slightly less impenetrable than fort fucking knox but holy SHIT this dude is prescient. such a trenchant and pointed criticism of modern living!!!!
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I think this book is a bit overrated...
Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Modern society, according to Bauman, has the characteristics of a fluid - from the microscopic point of view, the bonds that hold the constituent molecules together are looser than its solid counterpart; they are broken apart and recreated, and the timescale of death and rebirth is very short when compared to the timescale that allows for a stable society.

In other words, modern society is characterized by the frailty of individual bonds. The question then arises: if individual bonds are nothing
Claudio Lener
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book more, but the more I tried, the less engaged I felt. I could feel where the author was trying to get to, but I personally found the writing very circular and confusing, often not leading anywhere significant. I'm sure this would perhaps appeal more to a different kind of audience, but unfortunately, despite the vision I could almost grasp, I wasn't very impressed with the overall delivery of the content. ...more
Daria Zheglo
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
The stunning observation of what our contemporary society is and which challenges and opportunities we have. Flexibility and insecurity, vulnerability and mixophobia. I recommend it to everyone who is lost a bit and ready to question itself, because questioning is in the basement of sociology.
The first time I heard about the concept of Liquid Modernity, was while researching about Access-Based Consumption, in the midst of the rise of AirBnB, Uber, Netflix, Spotify, etc. These companies thrived on a - now ubiquitous - business model, that allowed consumers to gain access to a good or a service for shorter periods of time, without having to own it. The thesis of this book, published in 2000, became the theoretical framework for several business articles and scientific papers written du ...more
Andres Sanchez
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a dense but thought provoking book. Although it was first published around 20 years ago, the situation and issues it describes are still quite valid today.

It describes the changes experienced in society caused by the transition from a period he calls as solid modernity towards liquid modernity. Although I don't recall that the author provides an exact time reference I got the impression this is what takes place during the 20th century.

Fundamentally, the shift from solid modernity towards
Andrew Carr
Jul 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Analogous reasoning is one of the great intellectual tools mankind has. In this case, Bauman sees the period prior to and after the Enlightenment as defined by solidity. Set hierarchies and identities and people set in their place, space and time. What defines the modern era (written in the year 2000) is the idea of liquidity. Everything is in flux. States, societies and individuals are precarious and unstuck. Capital flows, identities shift, place loses meaning (for the elites at least). It's a ...more
Mar 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity
  • The History of Sexuality, Volume 2: The Use of Pleasure
  • La era del vacío
  • One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society
  • La sociedad de la transparencia
  • مآلات الخطاب المدني
  • الخيال السياسي للإسلاميين: ما قبل الدولة وما بعدها
  • Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
  • The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism
  • رحلتي الفكرية: في البذور والجذور والثمر
  • الدولة المستحيلة: الإسلام والسياسة ومأزق الحداثة الأخلاقي
  • ماذا خسر العالم بانحطاط المسلمين
  • قضية المرأة: بين التحرير والتمركز حول الأنثى
  • The Power Elite
  • نظام التفاهة
  • سلطة الثقافة الغالبة
  • الإسلام بين الشرق والغرب
  • On Violence
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Zygmunt Bauman was a world-renowned Polish sociologist and philosopher, and Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds. He was one of the world's most eminent social theorists, writing on issues as diverse as modernity and the Holocaust, postmodern consumerism and liquid modernity and one of the creators of the concept of “postmodernism”. ...more

Other books in the series

Liquid Series (8 books)
  • Liquid Love: On the Frailty of Human Bonds
  • Liquid Life
  • الخوف السائل
  • Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty
  • المراقبة السائلة
  • الشر السائل
  • الثقافة السائلة

News & Interviews

Sophie Gonzales, author of Perfect on Paper, and Cale Dietrich, author of The Friend Scheme, team up for a queer boy-band romance full of...
4 likes · 0 comments
“The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.” 32 likes
“What has been cut apart cannot be glued back together. Abandon all hope of totality, future as well as past, you who enter the world of fluid modernity.” 27 likes
More quotes…