Zygmunt Bauman

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Zygmunt Bauman
Zygmunt Bauman by Kubik.JPG
Born (1925-11-19) November 19, 1925 (age 88)
Poznań, Poland
Era 20th / 21st-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Continental philosophy · Western Marxism
Main interests Ethics · Political philosophy · Sociology · Postmodernity · Postmodern art
Notable ideas Modernity's struggle with ambiguity, resulting in the Holocaust · postmodern ethics · critique of "liquid" modernity

Zygmunt Bauman (born 19 November 1925) is a Polish sociologist. He has resided in England since 1971 after being driven out of Poland by an anti-semitic campaign engineered by the Communist government. 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.

Biography

Zygmunt Bauman was born to non-practising Polish-Jewish parents in Poznań, Poland, in 1925. When Poland was invaded by the Nazis 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),[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

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[citation needed][dubious ] — 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 dishonourably 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.[citation needed] 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 and the anti-Semitic campaign 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. With the March 1968 events, the anti-Semitic campaign culminated in a purge, which drove most remaining Poles of Jewish descent out of the country, including many intellectuals who had fallen from grace with the communist government.[citation needed] 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."[4]

Bauman was married to writer Janina Lewinson (she died on 29 December 2009 in Leeds[5]) 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.

Work

Bauman's published work extends to 57 books and well over a hundred articles.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] 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 [9] 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.[10] 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;[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14]

The University of Leeds launched The Bauman Institute within its School of Sociology and Social Policy in Bauman's honour in September 2010.[15]

The University of Wrocław planned to award Bauman an honorary doctorate in October 2013.[16] However, as a reaction to a major anti-semitic and anti-communist uproar against him, he eventually rejected the award.[17] 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). [18]

Bibliography

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.

Leeds period

Books on Bauman

  • 1995: Richard Kilminster, Ian Varcoe (eds.), Culture,Modernity and Revolution: Essays in Honour of Zygmunt Bauman. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-08266-8
  • 2000: Peter Beilharz, Zygmunt Bauman: Dialectic of Modernity. London: Sage. ISBN 0-7619-6735-4
  • 2000: Dennis Smith, Zygmunt Bauman: Prophet of Postmodernity (Key Contemporary Thinkers). Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-1899-5
  • 2004: Keith Tester, The Social Thought of Zygmunt Bauman. Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 1-4039-1271-8
  • 2005: Tony Blackshaw, Zygmunt Bauman (Key Sociologists). London/New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-35504-4
  • 2006: Keith Tester, Michael Hviid Jacobsen, Bauman Before Postmodernity: Invitation, Conversations and Annotated Bibliography 1953-1989. Aalborg: Aalborg University Press. ISBN 87-7307-738-0
  • 2007: Keith Tester, Michael Hviid Jacobsen, Sophia Marshman, Bauman Beyond Postmodernity: Conversations, Critiques and Annotated Bibliography 1989-2005. Aalborg: Aalborg University Press. ISBN 87-7307-783-6
  • 2007: Anthony Elliott (ed.), The Contemporary Bauman. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-40969-1
  • 2008: Michael Hviid Jacobsen, Poul Poder (eds.), The Sociology of Zygmunt Bauman: Challenges and Critique. London: Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-7060-0.
  • 2008: Mark Davis, Freedom and Consumerism: A Critique of Zygmunt Bauman's Sociology. Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-7271-5.
  • 2010: Mark Davis, Keith Tester (eds), Bauman's Challenge: Sociological Issues for the 21st Century. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-22134-5
  • 2013: Haggag Ali, Mapping the Secular Mind: Modernity's Quest for a Godless Utopia. London: International Institute of Islamic Thought. ISBN 978-1-56564-593-3
  • 2013: Pierre-Antoine Chardel, Zygmunt Bauman. Les illusions perdues de la modernité. Paris: CNRS Editions. ISBN 978-2-271-07542-0
  • 2013: Shaun Best, Zygmunt Bauman: Why Good People Do Bad Things. Farnham: Ashgate. ISBN 978-1-4094-3588-4

References

  1. ^ Piotr Gontarczyk: Towarzysz "Semjon". Nieznany życiorys Zygmunta Baumana. „Biuletyn IPN”, 6/2006. S. 74-83
  2. ^ Piotr Gontarczyk: Towarzysz "Semjon". Nieznany życiorys Zygmunta Baumana. „Biuletyn IPN”, 6/2006. S. 74-83
  3. ^ Aida Edemariam, "Professor with a past", The Guardian, April 28, 2007 The Guardian interviewer erroneously claims that the Brickhouse" article was written by Bogdan Musiał, a conservative Polish historian working in Germany. In fact, it was written by Institute of National Remembrance employee Piotr Gontarczyk; Musiał had simply repeated Gontarczyk's findings in the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
  4. ^ Roman Frister, Polish-Jewish sociologist compares West Bank separation fence to Warsaw Ghetto walls, Haaretz, September 1, 2011.
  5. ^ Janina Bauman nie żyje, news from Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza
  6. ^ An incomplete bibliography can be found at Leeds University's website
  7. ^ Between Class and Élite. The Evolution of the British Labour Movement: A Sociological Study. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1972.
  8. ^ Memories of Class: The Pree-History and After-Life of Class. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul
  9. ^ Madeleine Bunting, "Passion and pessimism". The Guardian, April 5, 2003
  10. ^ See in particular Modernity and Ambivalence, Cambridge: Polity, 1991, and Modernity and the Holocaust, Cambridge: Polity/Blackwell, 1990.
  11. ^ Modernity and the Holocaust, p. 53.
  12. ^ Such as Work, Consumerism and the New Poor, Open University, 1998.
  13. ^ See In Search of Politics, Polity, 1999.
  14. ^ Press release: Prince of Asturias Awards: Alain Touraine and Zygmunt Bauman, Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities, 27 May 2010
  15. ^ The Bauman Institute | University of Leeds
  16. ^ Gnauck, Gerhard (2013-08-23). "Ehrendoktor mit Hindernissen". Die Welt. 
  17. ^ http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/110471/leeds-professor-rejects-polish-award-over-antisemitic-slurs
  18. ^ Jump, Paul (3 April 2014). "Zygmunt Bauman rebuffs plagiarism accusation". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 

External links