Zygmunt Bauman

Zygmunt Bauman

Zygmunt Bauman

Zygmunt Bauman


This timely book provides the definitive concise introduction to the phenomenon of Zygmunt Bauman. After introducing the man, his major influences and his special way of 'thinking sociologically', author Blackshaw traces the development of Bauman's project by identifying and explaining the major shifts of emphasis in his work - the break with Marxism and the postmodern 'turn', and the subsequent refocusing on 'liquid' modernity - as well as offering a clear and accessible guide to the key conceptual hinges which move the reader on.

This book, the only concise introduction to Bauman's work on the market, goes on to explain the importance of the full range of persistent themes concerning Bauman, dealing specifically with individualization, freedom, identity, community, social control, consumption and waste, building a penetrating understanding of why these issues matter for this Key Sociologist.

Bauman's ideas have impacted beyond sociology into criminology, political theory, cultural studies, leisure studies and so forth, and have also now penetrated outside the walls of the academy into social policy, welfare reform, social work and politics. Making use of pedagogical features such as boxed sections, chapter summaries, an annotated bibliography and links to further reading, this well-written text assumes no prior familiarity with Bauman's work and will appeal to anyone in any of these fields wishing to get acquainted with the ideas of one of the world's most wide-ranging thinkers.


For all the shape-shifting qualities its major protagonists have brought to the discipline over the years, the ability to break with the orthodoxy in sociology has always been a rare commodity and most sociologists slot comfortably into a lineage, recalling others who have gone before. Indeed, today the discipline continues to be sustained by its ready-made ‘isms’, which acquire their own aesthetics, marking their protagonists as compellingly as that death-in-life zombie category of social class used to divide up the totality in its ‘solid’ modern stage: Marxists, symbolic interactionists, ethnomethodologists, figurationalists, feminists and the more freshly-minted postmodernists and poststructuralists and the rest. It takes someone both imaginative and brave to shake off the dust of heritage, duck fashion, and try to do their own thing, but Zygmunt Bauman is that kind of sociologist. As the reader will find out in the course of following chapters, nobody has the heart and passion that Bauman has for his sociology and this is what gives him confidence to break the mould.

To say that Bauman stands out among his contemporaries is not the same as saying that his work is altogether distinctive, though; on the contrary, he is a figure whose sociology represents a dialogue between many strands of social thought. As I demonstrate in this book, one of the more explicit intellectual lineages in Bauman’s sociology is the one with . . .

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