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Liquid Modernity

(Liquid Series)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,948 ratings  ·  137 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, 228 pages
Published June 8th 2000 by Polity Press (first published 1999)
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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)

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4.14  · 
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 ·  1,948 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
This was written in 2000? It could have come off the printing press just yesterday.

Bauman's volume of social theory discusses the types and conditions of modernity - not a break with the past, but beset with contradictions. The need to organize society - through industrialization and social planning (e.g. Weber's rationalization), but also the splitting apart of society through the overthrow of tradition. The world cannot be made ordered, but it is set adrift by constant, fluid change. Social s
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
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
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
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
Steen Ledet
Apr 16, 2017 rated it liked it
There's good stuff here, it's just obscured by tangents, aphorisms, and verbosity.
Erin K
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Clearly I'm not paranoid enough. Very insightful book.
Federico Giovannini
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece of contemporary sociology.
Reixel Soy Yo
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I think this book is a bit overrated...
Marta Maia
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
What can we make of a time that has lost touch with utopia?

“A map of the world that does not includes Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realization of Utopias.”
Oscar Wilde

We come from utopia and we aim at utopia.

More than ever before, humanity is on the move, we have been chasing the resources and means that allow every si
Jess Crago
May 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
The points Bauman makes in this text are largely very basic and have been explored greatly 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 hi
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
Yeonwoo Baik
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was a bit doubtful when I first started reading this book this summer. After all, it was published before the calendar hit the year 2000 and I wondered if it wouldn't be better to use my time to read books that are more up-to-date and dealing with current issues. But the doubt disappeared as I went on. Some of his analyses and predictions might not really correspond with what we are going through at the moment, but a lot of the things mentioned in the book can still be applied to the state of ...more
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
Mirosław Aleksander
Oct 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
Before Liquid Modenrity 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
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.
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Best account of our post post modern age. Captures and analyzes our perpetual anxiety perfectly.
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
a lot of philosophy terms, like the first 3 chapters but did not like the ending, the way it describes modern slavery it's something
Caed Scott
Nov 27, 2018 rated it liked it
he uses the metaphor 'fly in the otherwise tasty ointment' 3 times in this book. did zygmunt bauman eat ointment
Georgina Lara
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Hegel for the era of High-Frequency Trading?

Bauman outlines what is simply the best methodology for understanding and analyzing contemporary social conditions I have come across. Like it's namesake concept, this work exists in a fluid state, able to masterfully reconcile ideas from a wide variety of sources: Beck, Giddens, Foucault, D&G, Derrida, Touraine, Adorno, etc. Bauman has developed a pretty apt system for conceptualizing an overwhelming period of rapidly accelerating social change t
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Feeling free from constraint, free to act one’s wishes, means reaching a balance between the wishes, the imagination and the ability to act: one feels free in so far as the imagination is not greater than one’s actual desires, while neither of the two reaches beyond the ability to act. The balance may therefore be established and kept unimpaired in two different ways: either by tapering, cutting down the desires and/or imagination, or by expanding act. Once the balance is achieved, and as long a ...more
Mat Davies
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Liquid modernity can be approached from a number of disciplinary angles. For me, the book contains a conceptual apparatus for postmodernism which is useful, and relevant to the field of political theory, analysis and resistance.

“Any true liberation calls today for more, not less, of the ‘public sphere’ and ‘public power' … in order to enhance, not cut down individual liberty” (p.51)

The metaphor of liquidity is clear as “flexibility has replaced solidity as the idea condition to be perused of th
Ferruccio Fiordispini
The intuition of metaphor
Bauman, probably the most famous living sociologist, describes with great acumen the key conditions and circumstances of our time. His capacity for analysis and diagnosis of contemporary reality puts him on the same level of a ingenious observer as it was Marx. However, Marx was also able to develop a true general philosophy (some say a real secular religion) that It has emerged as one of the dominant ideologies of the entire '900.
Bauman has limited himself to observatio
Apr 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: more
Liquid Modernity describes the contrast between an older and fading hard capitalism that required solid factories where labor worked and compromised with capital over working conditions and wages. Solid modernity and the predictablity of it relations is replaced with transitory and flexible work forces that shift as capital shifts. The solidarity that labor enjoyed in solid times is replaced by the uncertainity of capital on the move, looking for ever more flexibility from labor and governments ...more
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I've never thought I'd read this book. I mean, a non fiction book about sociology instead of history and/or biography. But a friend suggested this book and I was bored so I took the challenge.
The first chapter was quite a chore. It was really difficult to get through. Picture Saramago with even more boring lines and no periods sentences that run up to two pages.
But it gets better on chapter two. I have to say that the shifted values have become more apparent these days. There are so many instanc
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, sociology
It was kinda hard for me to finish the book, because it's part of my assignments and that made it a heavy duty. Bauman is such a genius anyway. I'm impressed by the way he analyzes our current society and its trends. He wrote it in 99, so it's a little left behind -though he saw so many things coming: I think, perhaps, of the cloud services nowadays,that Bauman seemed to prophesy-, but it needs some updates. For example, he writes a lot about Yugoslavia, Kosovo and those old European problems. T ...more
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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”.

Other books in the series

Liquid Series (8 books)
  • Liquid Love: On the Frailty of Human Bonds
  • Liquid Life
  • Liquid Fear
  • Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty
  • Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation
  • Le sorgenti del male
  • Culture in a Liquid Modern World
“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.” 28 likes
“The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.” 20 likes
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