SD Alternative

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” - Dr. Seuss

Zygmunt Bauman

Or, books I have been reading for class, Part 2. Skipping The Century and Postmodernism and Discipline and Punish to post this, since I have it typed up already:

Bauman is awesome because he speaks directly to young people – he talks about “searching out ways of being” and “looking for job skills to be employable” – and because he gets all his metaphors from physics (time/space, heavy/light, solid/liquid), so that I can understand them. I found his books the easiest to read of all of the books we’ve been assigned so far, with Foucault a close second (because his references are historical and he includes novelistic descriptions of them within the text, so you don’t need to read anything else to understand him).

To bring in contemporary events: Bauman is a true 99%er, because his enemies are those in the ruling class who are absolutely free to flit from place to place, and who never have to worry about the consequences of their choices. These are the people who can afford unlimited instantaneous travel (being able to afford an internet connection counts for Bauman – it was 1999). Moreover, they can “afford” travel because their assets are liquid, in the form of stocks and property investments, so that they don’t have to live where they work, or can change where they work to match where they live. Or maybe they just don’t have to work at all, XD.

The 1% (my phrase not Bauman’s) are, additionally, the people best served by our modern consumer society. This is because being a good consumer means being able to make good choices, and these people have so many resources that they can’t make a truly bad choice – if they buy something they don’t like, they can discard it and buy something else. They therefore don’t suffer the choice paralysis suffered by the people who have to worry about choosing wrongly.

Bauman’s really popular, and I think this focus on the very wealthiest is part of the reason for his popularity (although he includes academics in the ranks of the elite). Apart from all the other reasons (brilliant writer, sympathetic to those on the very bottom, good at naming things, etc), I mean.

Specific books under the cut: mostly just a summary without a critique. The blanket critique would be that these books are full of broad, sweeping statements not backed up by empirical evidence, I guess.

Globalization: The Human Consequences )

Liquid Modernity )

Liquid is the more popular book, maybe because of the points it makes about the erosion of public discourse (OK no it’s probably because people love a novel metaphor), but I liked Globalization better, partly for its focus on the very poorest and very richest (kind of rare in sociology?), and partly for the way it directly links the fortunes of the two groups. I just worry that I can’t really evaluate the stuff he says about the experiences of the poorest and most marginalized, since they are outside of my direct experience (except through daytime chat shows etc).
from subdee: