Zygmunt Bauman by Tony Blackshaw

By Tony Blackshaw

For all of the shape-shifting features its significant protagonists have introduced to
the self-discipline through the years, the power to wreck with the orthodoxy in
sociology has continually been an extraordinary commodity and such a lot sociologists slot
comfortably right into a lineage, recalling others who've long past ahead of. Indeed,
today the self-discipline remains to be sustained by way of its ready-made ‘isms’,
which gather their very own aesthetics, marking their protagonists as
compellingly as that death-in-life zombie category1 of social classification used
to divide up the totality in its ‘solid’ sleek degree: Marxists, symbolic
interactionists, ethnomethodologists, figurationalists, feminists and the
more freshly-minted postmodernists and poststructuralists and the rest.
It takes somebody either ingenious and courageous to shake off the airborne dirt and dust of
heritage, duck type, and take a look at to do their very own factor, yet Zygmunt Bauman
is that sort of sociologist. because the reader will discover within the direction of
following chapters, no one has the center and keenness that Bauman has
for his sociology and this is often what offers him self belief to damage the mold.

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Extra resources for Zygmunt Bauman

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Bauman’s aim is to reconcile sociology with the way the already existing reality actually is. The irony is, of course, that his ways and means of achieving this have been accused by his critics of lacking a sense of realism, because he does not develop an empirical approach which deals with primary research methodologies: the narrow kind of empirical sociology which tends to switch between individuating and totalizing descriptions of the world ‘out there’, and in the process making 20 Zygmunt Bauman them equivalent in specificity to the imagined reality being addressed.

21 With the benefit of having read Foucault in the 1980s, Bauman was able to recognize the significance of the decentred power-knowledge of the ideologies (or discursive formations in Foucault’s lexicon) which, with their consumer truth claims, allow their protagonists to evaporate from view at the same time as they blend into other hegemonic equivalences. However, whereas even the most sophisticated of Marxist commentators always sees the worm of ideology in every apple and with it the consequences which reduce its victims to a kind of action without knowledge – otherwise read as ‘false consciousness’, Bauman offers a critical theory which understands the relationship between the decentred oppressors who pull the invisible strings of their ‘happy’ victims as one of exploitation which is contingent through and through.

Bauman certainly wasn’t the first social theorist to rethink social class His Theory of Modernity 31 relationships in this way. Some cultural Marxist theorists, most particularly those associated with the Frankfurt School,19 had since the Second World War been developing a more sophisticated form of critical theory which suggested that it is not impossible to separate human consciousness from the material existence of people’s lived condition. And in so doing they had offered an alternative Marxist theory of the modern world, which suggested that everything the masses see is mediated through the filter of the ‘culture industry’.

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