Zygmunt Bauman: Theorist of Postmodernity’s Ethical Turn

For Zygmunt Bauman, “sociologizing makes sense only in as far as it helps humanity” and “sociology is first and foremost a moral enterprise,”

“To think sociologically can render us more sensitive and tolerant of diversity. Thus to think sociologically means to understand a little more fully the people around us in terms of their hopes and desires and their worries and concerns (Bauman & May, 2001).”

It would be hoped that his writings and work written about him would be made available through the Creative Commons License 3.5, preferred by academics in 2008. Unfortunately so much of what is really useful to robust conversations in civil society, foundational texts and articles such as Bauman’s are restricted to those with access codes to the deep internet, the dark place of open source and Web 2.0+. Many of the services of the Deep Internet operate within the private sector model as user-pay. Others are restricted to those who are members of exclusive academic associations, the insular knowledge elite, who also operate with obligatory membership fees.

to be continued . . . add notes from EndNote

The following is an excerpt from the exclusive Deep Internet, the less accessible internet restricted to members through a user-pay service:

“Zygmunt Bauman is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the Universities of Leeds and Warsaw and has written some of the more influential modern books on sociology.

Baumans thinking is mainly influenced by what he refers to as the big triad of influences. This triad includes: Antonio Gramsci, Georg Simmel and Bauman’s wife, Janina. Bauman explains the triad as follows: “Gramsci told me what, Simmel how, and Janina what for” (Beilharz, 2001).

Bauman perceives Gramsci’s work as an antidote to the determinism of so much Marxisant thought. Simmel provides Bauman with the methods, whilst Janina has taught him that, sociologizing makes sense only in as far as it helps humanity.

This last quotation gives us a strong clue as to Bauman’s general approach to sociology.

Bauman was born in Poznan, Poland in 1925.

He completed his graduate studies – with an MA in social sciences – and in 1954 became a lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Warsaw. He was influenced by the work of his teachers Stanislaw Ossowski and Julian Hochfeld.

In 1971 Bauman came to Britain where he took up a position as a lecturer eventually becoming Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds in Yorkshire. Today he is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the Universities of Leeds and Warsaw. ”

(Source: http://www.sociologyonline.co.uk) now? www.sociologyonline.com

Anthony Giddens described Zygmunt Bauman as: ‘the theorist of postmodernity�he has developed a position with which everyone has to reckon'” (www.sociologyonline.com).”

“While heading the Department of Sociology at Leeds, Bauman brought great qualities of intellectual leadership. “From the start he saw his task as one of inspiring students, and among his academic colleagues promoting a collegial atmosphere in which new academic projects were welcomed and free and open discussion encouraged in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance and understanding” (www.leeds.ac.uk). Since his retirement, Bauman and his reputation has continued to benefit sociology at Leeds.”

Webliography and Bibliography

Adorno, Theodor. Inspired Bauman.http://www.sociologyonline.co.uk

Bauman, Zygmunt. 1987. Legislators and Interpreters. Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt(1988) Freedom Open University Press

Bauman, Zygmunt (1993) Postmodern Ethics Blackwell

Bauman, Zygmunt (1995) Life in Fragments: Essays in Postmodern Morality Blackwell

Bauman, Zygmunt (1997) Postmodernity and Its Discontents Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt (1998)a Globalization Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt (1998)b Work, consumerism and the new poor Open University Press

Bauman, Zygmunt (1999) In Search of Politics Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt (2001)a Liquid Modernity Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt (2001)b The Individualized Society Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt; & Tester, K (2001) Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt & May, T (2001) Thinking Sociologically Blackwell

Beck, Ulrich. 2002. “The Cosmopolitan Society and its Enemies.” Theory, Culture and Society. 19:1-2

Beilharz, P (ed) (2001) The Bauman Reader Blackwell

Berger, P ([1964]1974) Invitation to Sociology Viking

Carveth, Donald L. 1984. “Psychoanalysis and Social Theory: The Hobbesian Problem Revisted.” Psychoanalysis & Contemporary Thought. 7:1: 43-98.http://www.yorku.ca/dcarveth/social.htm

Castoriadis, Cornelius. Inspired Bauman

Gordon, Avery. 1997. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis. University of Minnesota Press

Gramsci, Antonio. Inspired Bauman

Krzemien. Microsociology: Symbolic-Interaction

Lemert, C (1995) Sociology: After the Crisis Westview

Levinas, Emmanuel. Inspired Bauman

Mills, C. Wright. 1959. “The Bureaucratic Ethos.” The Sociological Imagination. New York. Oxford University Press.

Mills, C. Wright. 1959. The Sociological Imagination. New York. Oxford University Press.

Simmel, Georg. Inspired Bauman

Smith, D (1999) Zygmunt Bauman: Prophet of Postmodernity Polity

Tester, K (1997) Moral Culture Sage

Weber, Max. Inspired Bauman

Wolff, Janet. 1999. “Cultural Studies and the Sociology of Culture” href=”http://www.rochester.edu/in_visible_culture/issue1/wolff/wolff.html” target=”_blank”>Cultural Studies and the Sociology of Culture.”

Bauman & May, 2001

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3 Responses

  1. August Comte vs Zygmunt Bauman
    The Religion of Humanity vs Analysis of anything that is “believed” via a “sociologizing” process for the good of humanity.

  2. What an amazing topic for an ongoing robust conversation! Do you have three sources to feed into such a discussion? What are your own thoughts on this? Fundamentally the dichotomy is situated in the realm of legitimacy of knowledge claims pitting religion (and a loose folksonomy or tag cloud of faith-belief-ideology-subjectivity ???) against science (with a tag cloud of evidence-based facts, research, questions-objectivity-???). Where does “humanism” fit in this conversation? Who decides what is “good” or “bad” for humanity? (the universal values question)? How inclusive is the “we” of a concept such as “humanity”? Is it only a “secular humanism”? How does Bauman’s more recent research (for example into 20th century genocide) refine, develop and/or contradict Comte’s theories historically situated at a time when the complexities of xenophobia, racism, cultural diversities and the shrinking globe were not profoundly acknowledged?

  3. taking the term humanism purely as a term.it would seem to have to be inclusive of all humans weather they suscribe to a religous belief or not.Sociology is an academic persuit and is useful as a tool to inform people as to what is occurring in the world.But somtimes it seems that both sociology and religion are examples of elitisms that have little effect on the everyday life of the slob actor struggling to survive. weather that struggle is in a war torn continent or a first world thriving economy(although one could question the existence of such a place at the mo) is an accident of birth and also relative.The thing that i see religion providing that sociology does’nt is a comfort blanket that succeeds in making people accept the unacceptable in the hope that when one dies everything is gonna be great. so grin and bear on a daily basis all sorts of injustices cos when we die it will all be fine ,has for me a myth like quality.Roll on secularisation and human rights for all. I really think Marx had it rite wen he described religion as opium at least sociology is attempting to improve the situation for the individual actor it remains to see the trickle down effect on everyday existence.

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