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Wasted Lives: Modernity and Its Outcasts

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  270 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
The production of 'human waste' - or more precisely, wasted lives, the 'superfluous' populations of migrants, refugees and other outcasts - is an inevitable outcome of modernization. It is an unavoidable side-effect of economic progress and the quest for order which is characteristic of modernity.

As long as large parts of the world remained wholly or partly unaffected by
Paperback, 140 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Polity Press (first published January 7th 2003)
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Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-theory
I’m not sure what I was expecting from this, but it would be fair to say I was expecting less. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be confronted with a wealth of fresh ideas and to have my perspectives on so many issues skewed.

This is what I sometimes call a ‘white board’ book. Normally, books that remind me of a teacher at a white board filling in a mind-map around a single term are the worst books I’ve ever read. But this shows what comes from someone really thinking through an idea in all its ma
Eric Aguirre
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Poco a poco me estoy volviendo más y más adicto al trabajo de Zygmunt Bauman. El mundo moderno esta produciendo una cantidad alarmante de desperdicios humanos. Aquí nuestro autor no nos está hablando del medioambiente, sino que nos habla del hombre como basura. El progreso económico de países como Estados Unidos, Japón, Inglaterra, Alemania y China por ejemplo; están dejando al margen países y continentes enteros. En pocas palabras: para que el capitalismo y la globalización funcionen de manera ...more
Jun 01, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes Bauman
Not Bauman's best. It continues unpacking ideas he expressed in Liquid Fear, and his other books. Mainly the futility of seeking local solutions to global, systemic problems.

He adds the idea that modernity by definition involves an attempt to improve society through design. Designs always involve waste, and thus any 'designed society' will involve wasted lives.
Jan 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Uncovers how our modern progressive world sees the poor and marginalized of our societies. Just like trash, we discard those who we perceive won't benefit our lives. Sad but true! Case in point, the many slums built on top of the garbage heaps here in Manila, where so many people scrounge for anything to live on. Unfortunetaly, now the rich sift through the garbage for anything valuable before it even makes it to the slums.
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Del mismo es que del mismo modo en que el capitalismo moderno nos coloca en una dinámica de consumo en que las cosas que compramos, las usamos por un ratito y rápidamente se van al basurero, las sociedades han generado una población superficial a la cual desechan, del mismo modo que a las cosas. Las vidas desperdiciadas serían más bien como vidas desperdicio: quienes no se integran a una comunidad, quienes no se integran a formas de trabajo "normal" (como quienes tratan con los residuos en los b ...more
Hyokun Yun
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book provides an analysis of the modern world's recent problem: the production and accumulation of "human waste". Modernity is characterized by constant change and order-building; constant change and order-building keep producing people who do not fit into today's world. When globalization of modernity was still in progress, excess population in developed countries could be recycled at developing/underdeveloped countries. Now, they are
Marek Mackiewicz
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hands down the most clearly written academic book that I've read as yet. The insight that the author had into his contemporary world is awe-inspiring. Particularly if one takes into account that Bauman was 79 (sic!) at the moment of its publication.
I hope to be able to write like that one day
Oscar Garcia
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perfect for people who want to start to see the world around us in a critical way. Highly recommended.
Jorge Caballero
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I must begin by stating that I don’t agree with everything (nor even necessarily with most) of what’s expressed in this book, but I still found it a stimulating and interesting read, with ideas worthy of further inquiry.

In this book, Bauman postulates that an inevitable by-product of society’s current model of constant economic progress and modernization is waste.

He starts by addressing the way on which we’re compelled to throw away “old”/“obsolete” appliances to make way for newer “better” ones
Dec 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Another good book by Bauman - and a little more focussed than usual.

The best part, for me, was his presentation of the transition from a social (welfare) state to a fear-state, in which the justificaiton of the state is to create, and then manage, fear.

He presents an allegory from Franz Kafka "of the subterranean shelter which an unnamed safety-obsessed animal spent its life designing, digging and endlessly perfecting only to deepen the terror that kept it working" (p.50). Our burgeoning awarene
Henrique Cassol
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"O Planeta está cheio". Bauman começa seu livro com esta constatação. O mundo está cheio, não há espaços vazios, inabitados, "Terra Nullius", por isso, áreas marginais são transformadas em depósitos de lixo. Estes depósitos estão cheios de despejos, mas também de "refugos humanos". Bauman classificou estes contingentes humanos, como indispensáveis, redundantes, removidos da sociedade de consumo, i.e. são consumidores falhos.
O sustentáculo do capitalismo e de nossa sociedade é o trabalho. Mas, à
Jan 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Social Scientists, Enviromentalists, Business Leaders, Demographers, Religious Leaders.
Recommended to L by: Self
Shelves: social-theory
Bauman writes his argument as if he were teaching a graduate seminar course. He does not cite sources or support his argument with quantifiable data because he assumes at this level you understand his viewpoint, and it works well. This is not to say his work is academic and beyond a readers understanding of his thoughts -- in fact he writes quite plainly and many of his ideas are well thought out.
One question a reader is left to ponder is whether or not people better prefer to throw out yesterda
Claudia Altavilla
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
siamo tutti in bilico tra la società e la discarica
spietata lucida analisi della società liquido moderna nella quale tutto diviene prima o poi un rifiuto destinato alla discarica...anche l'essere umano può diventare rifiuto e spesso reinserirsi nella società è impossibile.Viviamo nell'epoca del'estetica senza arte dove il nuovo diviene subito vecchio e privo di valore e solo chi è in grado di consumare, spendere afferrare le occasioni riesce a sopravvivere, gli altri sono odiosi scarti, esuberi
Feb 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: academic-history
Several great concepts articulating what we already know: modernity requires constant novelty and consumption which generates massive waste, including and most tragically, excess, "unproductive" humans. At the beginning of modernity there were so-called empty spaces un-used in the modern productive sense that these excess people could be shipped off to. But today there aren't these extra spaces so the wasted lives are crowded in cities and are refugees who are a problem we need to solve. More ph ...more
Kirsten Dyck
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Bauman's "Wasted Lives" is interesting and quite readable, but if you're looking for anything other than straight-up theory, this ain't it. This feels like one of those monographs that really could have been a 30-page article. Also, the excursus on religion in the final chapter is annoying at best, opinion at worst. Still, the book says important things about Modernity and how we treat the groups of people we'd prefer to ignore.
Jul 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookstore-coop
This is a short, succinct essay on the problem of waste managment and disposal in our modern times. Bauman's analysis of waste looks at the wasted lives of humans who can not be "recycled" or disposed of because the "world is full." The brevity and the clarity with which Bauman describes the problem makes the book easy and enjoyable to read (despite the topic). We are free gods in a world of slaves (from the book)
Jul 27, 2007 rated it liked it
The book is on the idea of waste, and how modernity produces waste. The book is not an easy read, but compelling. As other reviews have stated, global problems often are unmoved by individualized solutions. Cooperation from many entities is in need if you want to address global poverty and wasted lives.
Jan 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I do like the ideas proposed in this book, especially in the way they made me think. Also he certainly has some valid poinst. I only think it could have been written done a bit more clearly. Also some aspects of wasted lives, such as agency and a grey line between inclusion and exclusion could have been added on to make the theory more hollistic.
Alex Stretton
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very pleasing and quick read, Bauman weaves history into his analysis of modernity and it is entertaining yet confronting.
Shawn Cassiman
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Provocative, beautifully written book. Details the ways in which our economic system marginalizes, wastes, human beings.
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Marta Chioccarello
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Nov 27, 2017
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Nov 22, 2015
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Feb 03, 2017
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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”.
More about Zygmunt Bauman

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