Zygmunt Bauman

Zygmunt Bauman (born 19 November 1925, died 9 January 2017 in Leeds) was a Polish sociologist. He has resided in England since 1971 after being driven out of Poland by a political purge engineered by the communist government of the Polish People's Republic. Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Leeds, Bauman is one of the world's most eminent social theorists writing on issues as diverse as modernity and the Holocaust, postmodern consumerism and liquid modernity.

Zygmunt Bauman was born to non-practicing Polish Jewish parents in Poznań, Poland, in 1925. When Poland was invaded by the Nazi Germany in 1939 his family escaped eastwards into the Soviet Union. Bauman then enlisted in the Soviet-controlled Polish First Army, working as a political education instructor. He took part in the battles of Kolberg (now Kołobrzeg) and Berlin. In May 1945 he was awarded the Military Cross of Valour.

According to the Institute of National Remembrance, from 1945 to 1953 Bauman was a political officer in the Internal Security Corps (KBW), a military unit formed to combat Ukrainian nationalist insurgents and part of the remnants of the Polish Home Army .

Further Bauman worked as an informer for the Military Intelligence from 1945 to 1948. However, the nature and extent of his collaboration remain unknown, as well as the exact circumstances under which it was terminated.

In an interview in The Guardian, Bauman confirmed that he had been a committed communist during and after World War II and had never made a secret of it. He admitted, however, that joining the military intelligence service at age 19 was a mistake even though he had a "dull" desk-job and did not remember informing on anyone.

While serving in the KBW, Bauman first studied sociology at the Warsaw Academy of Social Sciences. He went on to study philosophy at the University of Warsaw — sociology had temporarily been cancelled from the Polish curriculum as a "bourgeois" discipline — and his teachers at Warsaw included Stanisław Ossowski and Julian Hochfeld.

In the KBW, Bauman had risen to the rank of major when he was suddenly dishonorably discharged in 1953, after his father approached the Israeli embassy in Warsaw with a view to emigrating to Israel. As Bauman did not share his father's Zionist tendencies and was indeed strongly anti-Zionist, his dismissal caused a severe, though temporary estrangement from his father. During the period of unemployment that followed, he completed his M.A. and in 1954 became a lecturer at the University of Warsaw, where he remained until 1968.

During a stay at the London School of Economics, where his supervisor was Robert McKenzie, he prepared a comprehensive study on the British socialist movement, his first major book. Published in Polish in 1959, a translated and revised edition appeared in English in 1972.

Bauman went on to publish other books, including Socjologia na co dzień ("Sociology for everyday life", 1964), which reached a large popular audience in Poland and later formed the foundation for the English-language text-book Thinking Sociologically (1990).

Initially, Bauman remained close to orthodox Marxist doctrine, but influenced by Antonio Gramsci and Georg Simmel, he became increasingly critical of Poland's communist government. Because of this he was never awarded a professorship even after he completed his habilitation but, after his former teacher Julian Hochfeld was made vice-director of UNESCO's Department for Social Sciences in Paris in 1962, Bauman de facto inherited Hochfeld's chair.

Faced with increasing political pressure a political purge led by Mieczysław Moczar, the Chief of the Polish Communist Secret Police, Bauman renounced his membership in the governing Polish United Workers' Party in January 1968. The March 1968 events culminated in a purge which drove most remaining Communist Poles of Jewish descent out of the country, including many intellectuals who had fallen from grace with the communist government. Bauman, who had lost his chair at the University of Warsaw, was among them. Having had to give up Polish citizenship to be allowed to leave the country, he first went to Israel to teach at Tel Aviv University, before accepting a chair in sociology at the University of Leeds, where he intermittently also served as head of department. Since then, he has published almost exclusively in English, his third language, and his repute has grown exponentially. Indeed, from the late 1990s, Bauman exerted a considerable influence on the anti- or alter-globalization movement.

In a 2011 interview in the important Polish weekly "Polityka" Bauman criticized Zionism and Israel, saying Israel was not interested in peace and that it was "taking advantage of the Holocaust to legitimize unconscionable acts." He compared the Israeli West Bank barrier to the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto where hundreds of thousands of Jews died in the Holocaust. Israeli ambassador to Warsaw, Zvi Bar, called Bauman's comments "half truths" and "groundless generalizations."

Bauman was married to writer Janina Lewinson (she died on 29 December 2009 in Leeds) and has three daughters, painter Lydia Bauman, architect Irena Bauman, and Professor of mathematics education Anna Sfard. The noted Israeli civil rights lawyer Michael Sfard is his grandson.


Bauman's published work extends to 57 books and well over a hundred articles. Most of these address a number of common themes, among which are globalization, modernity and postmodernity, consumerism, and morality.

Early work

Bauman's earliest publication in English is a study of the British labour movement and its relationship to class and social stratification, originally published in Poland in 1960. He continued to publish on the subject of class and social conflict until the early 1980s, with his last book on the subject being Memories of Class. Whilst his later books do not address issues of class directly, he continues to describe himself as a socialist, and he has never rejected Marxism entirely. The Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci in particular remains one of his most profound influences.

Modernity and rationality

In the late 1980s and early 1990s Bauman published a number of books that dealt with the relationship between modernity, bureaucracy, rationality and social exclusion. Bauman, following Freud, came to view European modernity as a trade off; European society, he argued, had agreed to forego a level of freedom in order to receive the benefits of increased individual security. Bauman argued that modernity, in what he later came to term its 'solid' form, involved removing unknowns and uncertainties; it involved control over nature, hierarchical bureaucracy, rules and regulations, control and categorisation — all of which attempted to gradually remove personal insecurities, making the chaotic aspects of human life appear well-ordered and familiar.

Then, over a number of books Bauman began to develop the position that such order-making efforts never manage to achieve the desired results. When life becomes organised into familiar and manageable categories, he argued, there are always social groups who cannot be administered, who cannot be separated out and controlled. In his book Modernity and Ambivalence Bauman began to theorise such indeterminate persons by introducing the allegorical figure of 'the stranger.' Drawing upon the sociology of Georg Simmel and the philosophy of Jacques Derrida, Bauman came to write of the stranger as the person who is present yet unfamiliar, society's undecidable.

In Modernity and Ambivalence Bauman attempted to give an account of the different approaches modern society adopts toward the stranger. He argued that, on the one hand, in a consumer-oriented economy the strange and the unfamiliar is always enticing; in different styles of food, different fashions and in tourism it is possible to experience the allure of what is unfamiliar. Yet this strange-ness also has a more negative side. The stranger, because he cannot be controlled and ordered, is always the object of fear; he is the potential mugger, the person outside of society's borders who is constantly threatening.

Bauman's most famous book, Modernity and the Holocaust, is an attempt to give a full account of the dangers of these kinds of fears. Drawing upon Hannah Arendt and Theodor Adorno's books on totalitarianism and the Enlightenment, Bauman developed the argument that the Holocaust should not simply be considered to be an event in Jewish history, nor a regression to pre-modern barbarism. Rather, he argued, the Holocaust should be seen as deeply connected to modernity and its order-making efforts. Procedural rationality, the division of labour into smaller and smaller tasks, the taxonomic categorisation of different species, and the tendency to view rule-following as morally good all played their role in the Holocaust coming to pass. And he argued that for this reason modern societies have not fully taken on board the lessons of the Holocaust; it is generally viewed—to use Bauman's metaphor—like a picture hanging on a wall, offering few lessons.

In Bauman's analysis the Jews became 'strangers' par excellence in Europe; the Final Solution was pictured by him as an extreme example of the attempts made by societies to excise the uncomfortable and indeterminate elements existing within them. Bauman, like the philosopher Giorgio Agamben, contended that the same processes of exclusion that were at work in the Holocaust could, and to an extent do, still come into play today.

Postmodernity and consumerism

In the mid-to-late 1990s, Bauman began exploring postmodernity and consumerism. He posited that a shift had taken place in modern society in the latter half of the 20th century; it had changed from a society of producers into a society of consumers. According to Bauman, this change reversed Freud's "modern" tradeoff—i.e., security was given up in order to enjoy more freedom, freedom to purchase, consume, and enjoy life. In his books in the 1990s Bauman wrote of this shift as being a shift from "modernity" to "post-modernity". Since the turn of the millennium, his books have tried to avoid the confusion surrounding the term "postmodernity" by using the metaphors of "liquid" and "solid" modernity. In his books on modern consumerism Bauman still writes of the same uncertainties that he portrayed in his writings on "solid" modernity; but in these books he writes of these fears being more diffuse and harder to pin down. Indeed, they are, to use the title of one of his books, "liquid fears"—i.e., fears about pedophilia, for instance, which are amorphous and have no easily identifiable referent.

Bauman is credited with coining the term allosemitism to encompass both philo-Semitic and anti-Semitic attitudes towards Jews as other.

Awards and honours

Bauman was awarded the European Amalfi Prize for Sociology and Social Sciences in 1992 and the Theodor W. Adorno Award of the city of Frankfurt in 1998. He has been awarded in 2010, jointly with Alain Touraine, the Príncipe de Asturias Prize for Communication and the Humanities.

The University of Leeds launched The Bauman Institute within its School of Sociology and Social Policy in Bauman's honour in September 2010.

The "University of Lower Silesia", a small for-profit higher education institution in Lower Silesia, Poland, planned to award Bauman an honorary doctorate in October 2013. However, as a reaction to a major anti-communist and what Bauman supporters allege "anti-semitic" uproar against him, he eventually rejected the award.


In 2014, Peter Walsh, a PhD candidate from University of Cambridge, UK, accused Bauman of plagiarizing from several websites including Wikipedia in his book titled Does the Richness of the Few Benefit Us All? (2013). In his book Bauman copied verbatim paragraphs from Wikipedia articles on slow food and steady state economy, along with their bibliography, without attributing sources, authors or the fact that they were copied from the Wikipedia. He also copied a paragraph from the article on the golden handshake, but this citation was properly attributed to Wikipedia.

In a response Bauman suggested that "obedience" to "technical" rules was unnecessary, and that he "never once failed to acknowledge the authorship of the ideas or concepts that I deployed, or that inspired the ones I coined". A detailed critique of Walsh and David Lehmann by Brad Evans and Henry A. Giroux said: "This charge against Bauman is truly despicable. It's a reactionary ideological critique dressed up as the celebration of method and a back-door defense of a sterile empiricism and culture of positivism. This is a discourse that enshrines data, correlations, and performance, while eschewing matters of substance, social problems, and power."

Books by Bauman Warsaw period
  • 1957: Zagadnienia centralizmu demokratycznego w pracach Lenina [Questions of Democratic Centralism in Lenin's Works]. Warszawa: Książka i Wiedza.
  • 1959: Socjalizm brytyjski: Źródła, filozofia, doktryna polityczna [British Socialism: Sources, Philosophy, Political Doctrine]. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
  • 1960: Klasa, ruch, elita: Studium socjologiczne dziejów angielskiego ruchu robotniczego [Class, Movement, Elite: A Sociological Study on the History of the British Labour Movement]. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
  • 1960: Z dziejów demokratycznego ideału [From the History of the Democratic Ideal]. Warszawa: Iskry.
  • 1960: Kariera: cztery szkice socjologiczne [Career: Four Sociological Sketches]. Warszawa: Iskry.
  • 1961: Z zagadnień współczesnej socjologii amerykańskiej [Questions of Modern American Sociology]. Warszawa: Książka i Wiedza.
  • 1962 (with Szymon Chodak, Juliusz Strojnowski, Jakub Banaszkiewicz): Systemy partyjne współczesnego kapitalizmu [The Party Systems of Modern Capitalism]. Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza.
  • 1962: Spoleczeństwo, w ktorym żyjemy [The Society We Live In]. Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza.
  • 1962: Zarys socjologii. Zagadnienia i pojęcia [Outline of Sociology. Questions and Concepts]. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
  • 1963: Idee, ideały, ideologie [Ideas, Ideals, Ideologies]. Warszawa: Iskry.
  • 1964: Zarys marksistowskiej teorii spoleczeństwa [Outline of the Marxist Theory of Society]. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
  • 1964: Socjologia na co dzień [Sociology for Everyday Life]. Warszawa: Iskry.
  • 1965: Wizje ludzkiego świata. Studia nad społeczną genezą i funkcją socjologii [Visions of a Human World: Studies on the social genesis and the function of sociology]. Warszawa: Książka i Wiedza.
  • 1966: Kultura i społeczeństwo. Preliminaria [Culture and Society, Preliminaries]. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
  • 2016: Szkice z teorii kultury [Essays in cultural theory]. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar. ISBN 978-83-7383-878-9
Leeds period
  • 1972: Between Class and Elite. The Evolution of the British Labour Movement. A Sociological Study. Manchester: Manchester University Press ISBN 0-7190-0502-7 (Polish original 1960)
  • 1973: Culture as Praxis. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7619-5989-0
  • 1976: Socialism: The Active Utopia. New York: Holmes and Meier Publishers. ISBN 0-8419-0240-2
  • 1976: Towards a Critical Sociology: An Essay on Common-Sense and Emancipation. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7100-8306-8
  • 1978: Hermeneutics and Social Science: Approaches to Understanding. London: Hutchinson. ISBN 0-09-132531-5
  • 1982: Memories of Class: The Pre-history and After-life of Class. London/Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7100-9196-6
  • c1985 Stalin and the peasant revolution: a case study in the dialectics of master and slave. Leeds: University of Leeds Department of Sociology. ISBN 0-907427-18-9
  • 1987: Legislators and interpreters: On Modernity, Post-Modernity, Intellectuals. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-2104-7
  • 1988: Freedom. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-15592-8
  • 1989: Modernity and the Holocaust. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press 1989. ISBN 0-8014-2397-X
  • 1990: Paradoxes of Assimilation. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.
  • 1990: Thinking Sociologically. An introduction for Everyone. Cambridge, Mass.: Basil Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-16361-1
  • 1991: Modernity and Ambivalence. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-2603-0
  • 1992: Intimations of Postmodernity. London, New York: Routhledge. ISBN 0-415-06750-2
  • 1992: Mortality, Immortality and Other Life Strategies. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-1016-1
  • 1993: Postmodern Ethics. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-18693-X
  • 1994: Dwa szkice o moralności ponowoczesnej [Two sketches on postmodern morality]. Warszawa: IK.
  • 1995: Life in Fragments. Essays in Postmodern Morality. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19267-0 (Open access download)
  • 1996: Alone Again - Ethics After Certainty. London: Demos. ISBN 1-898309-40-X
  • 1997: Postmodernity and its Discontents. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 0-7456-1791-3
  • 1995: Ciało i przemoc w obliczu ponowoczesności [Body and Violence in the Face of Postmodernity]. Toruń: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika. ISBN 83-231-0654-1
  • 1997: (with Roman Kubicki, Anna Zeidler-Janiszewska) Humanista w ponowoczesnym świecie - rozmowy o sztuce życia, nauce, życiu sztuki i innych sprawach [A Humanist in the Postmodern World - Conversations on the Art of Life, Science, the Life of Art and Other Matters]. Warszawa: Zysk i S-ka. ISBN 83-7150-313-X
  • 1998: Work, consumerism and the new poor. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-20155-5
  • 1998: Globalization: The Human Consequences. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-7456-2012-4
  • 1999: In Search of Politics. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-2172-4
  • 2000: Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: Polity ISBN 0-7456-2409-X
  • (2000 [ed. by Peter Beilharz]: The Bauman Reader. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0-631-21492-5)
  • 2001: Community. Seeking Safety in an Insecure World. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-2634-3
  • 2001: The Individualized Society. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-2506-1
  • 2001 (with Keith Tester): Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-2664-5
  • 2001 (with Tim May): Thinking Sociologically, 2nd edition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0-631-21929-3
  • 2002: Society Under Siege. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-2984-9
  • 2003: Liquid Love: On the Frailty of Human Bonds, Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-2489-8
  • 2003: City of fears, city of hopes. London: Goldsmith's College. ISBN 1-904158-37-4
  • 2004: Wasted Lives. Modernity and its Outcasts. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-3164-9
  • 2004: Europe: An Unfinished Adventure. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-3403-6
  • 2004: Identity: Conversations with Benedetto Vecchi. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-3308-0
  • 2005: Liquid Life. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-3514-8
  • 2006: Liquid Fear. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-3680-2
  • 2006: Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-3987-9
  • 2006: Moralność w niestabilnym świecie [Morality in an instable world]. Poznań: Księgarnia św. Wojciecha. ISBN 83-7015-863-3
  • 2007: Consuming Life. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-4002-8
  • 2008: Does Ethics Have a Chance in a World of Consumers? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-02780-9
  • 2008: The Art of Life. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-4326-4
  • 2009: Living on Borrowed Time: Conversations with Citlali Rovirosa-Madrazo. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-4738-8
  • 2009: (with Roman Kubicki, Anna Zeidler-Janiszewska) Życie w kontekstach. Rozmowy o tym, co za nami i o tym, co przed nami. [Life in contexts. Conversations about what lies behind us and what lies ahead of us.] Warszawa: WAiP. ISBN 978-83-61408-77-2
  • 2010: 44 Letters from the Liquid Modern World. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-5056-2
  • 2011: Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-5294-8
  • 2011: Culture in a Liquid Modern World. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-5355-6
  • 2012: This is Not a Diary. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-5570-3
  • 2012: (with David Lyon) Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-6282-4
  • 2013: (with Leonidas Donskis) Moral Blindness: The Loss of Sensitivity in Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-6274-9
  • 2013: (with Stanisław Obirek) O bogu i człowieku. Rozmowy. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie. ISBN 978-83-08-05089-7
    • translated as Of God and Man. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-9568-6
  • 2013: (with Michael Hviid Jacobsen and Keith Tester) What use is sociology? Conversations with Michael Hviid Jacobsen and Keith Tester. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 9780745671246
  • 2013: Does the Richness of the Few Benefit Us All? Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-0745671093
  • 2014: (with Carlo Bordoni) State of Crisis. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-8095-8
  • 2015: (with Rein Raud) Practices of Selfhood. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 9780745690179
  • 2016: (with Leonidas Donskis) Liquid Evil. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-1509508129
  • 2016: (with Ezio Mauro) Babel. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-1509507603
  • 2016: Strangers at Our Door. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-1509512171
  • 2017: Retrotopia. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-1509515318


Source: wikipedia.org

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