Consequently it is fundamental to understand in advance and profoundly the concept of liquidity around which Bauman interweaves his most recent philosophical and sociological reflection.
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Solidity and liquidity are the distinctive features of two eras: modernity and postmodernity, which becomes liquid modernity as it relates to contemporary existence. It is an existence where the need gives way to the desire that dismays men in the constant changes and transformations that affect their lives, and that turn identity from fact into a task: each of us runs into the self-building, which replaces the project itself.
Indeed, in our contemporary age the relationship between the individual and society is changing because the concepts of identity, individual and individuality are becoming meaningless. Being individuals in the liquid society does not simply mean being good consumers, but also being competitive goods in the global market. It becomes a free space on which to shape the visible Self, since if we are not able to dress up our own physical, it means that we are lacking in something.
To have means to possess because some form of control is capable of generating security in a world lacking in its solid points of reference.
For this reason the conditions of having also falls on the body of contemporary man, who finds in it a form of certainty: to manipulate and control his physical means acting on what you are sure to possess. To meet the standards of normality and to be recognized as a mature and respectable members of society, we must respond quickly and efficiently to the temptations of the consumer goods market. It should be offered regularly a contribution to the demand fit to absorb the supply and, in the stages of reflection or stagnation of the economy, we must participate to the recovery led by consumers.
The poor and the idlers, those who have neither a decent income, or credit cards, nor the prospect of better days, are not up to these requirements. Consequently the rule broken by the poor today, the violation of the rule distinguishes them and tags them as abnormal, is the standard of competence or fitness as consumers, not that of employment.
The poor of today ie those that constitute a problem for others are first and foremost consumers rather than unemployed people. And the access falls directly on the responsibility of the individual, who, in order to build his own individuality, prefers to invest its available economic resources for the purchase of those means suitable to classify, to modernize and introduce in the list of who matters.
- Zygmunt Bauman;
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Moreover, in a period of severe economic crisis like the one we are currently experiencing, other statistics show that the primary consumption, referring to the basic necessities, is put aside to buy advanced technology products, clothing and cosmetics. Today consumption seems to be a homologating activity, and according to Bauman it is a way to measure how much a person - in liquid society - is able to be individual. On that concept, Bauman builds his thought about the individual and society, which runs on two main lines. The first is embodied in the idea that in the liquid world the conquest of identity goes hand in hand with the adherence to rules of a consumers society directed by the policies of the global market: being individuals is equivalent to being consumers.
The second line, however, going further that consideration, expands to incorporate the individual in the products. The relationship between the individual and the self, as well as between the individual and the others, acquires through Z. Being consumers and being consumed become, in fact, most general determinations of an individual who is affected the most problematic effects of the process of de-socialization, started by globalization, now arrived at one of its most acute and extreme phases. Social aggregation and organization are deprived of their traditional tasks: they stop being identity dimensions of the subject capable of providing a set of standards and benchmarks.
The individual becomes an isolated monad always looking for new forms of socialization, which instead of providing safety and welfare, increase the gap between man and the Self and between man and the other. More and more people are organized in social networks, which communicate via computer. The belonging, in fact, is characterized as a natural human feeling, that, being suppressed nowadays - is manifest in surrogate forms of virtual social aggregation that are the attempt to satisfy the natural human sociability.
The consumer society, in fact, does not aggregate, at any rate, disaggregate turning groups into isolated monads, with weak and fragmented bonds, where the individual is crystallized between the search for Self and the disarray in the not - Self. The singularity and uniqueness of the individual is replaced by the flow of the needs of a group, which - in our contemporary world - seems to assume the appearance of a swarm.
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A swarm can do without all the ceremonial and tricks without which it would neither form nor survive. They come together, scatter and gather again, from an occasion to another, every time inevitably for a different reason, and are attracted by changeable aims. The seductive power of mobile objectives is a rule sufficient to coordinate movements, and this is enough to render superfluous any other command or imposition from above.
Then, even the traditional hierarchies that generate order, dissolve and become strong inviolable nucleus in which the individual can find himself, directing and limiting his own desires. This means that every opportunity to address the human being collapses.
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Consequently the individual is considered as a momentary unity of the passing swarm and driven by the fleeting current. That is a dimension impregnated with an illusory security of a free and optimal choice since it is the choice of a large number of people. The choice is what aggregates in a liquid world, as these spaces are to be rethought and redesigned according to certain canons able to shape the communities in which the individual - consumer can find and fulfill their sense of belonging.
The malls seem to be hives of swarms of Bauman, as offering the ideally imagined community: a place where the purpose of purchasing aggregates. Moreover, in this sense, Bauman tracks in the anthropophagic strategy theorized by Levi-Strauss, f the practice of elimination of differences between individuals, which is reproduced in the supermarket: the privileged places of consumption in which is performed the aggregating power of purchase.
The extreme variants of this emic strategy are, today as always, imprisonment, deportation and physical suppression. Two updated forms, refined modernized are the spatial separation, urban ghettos, the selective access to spaces.
This process inevitably excludes those who are not in possession of the means fit to perform this activity, which, indeed, remains essentially solitary. Here in this game of appearances and reproductions the group gives way to the swarm, which, in the collective whirl, loses that authentic sense of belonging that makes each man a member of society, in which — mentioning Durkheim - it performs the natural duality of the subject: animal with socialized personality, union of instinct and reason, of self and world.
Fromm, To have or to be? Castells , Internet galaxy, Oxford University press, , p.
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We will try to show that in fact one and the other have the same relationship with the respective substrate. But this approach, far from justifying the view that sociology reduces to a simple corollary of individual psychology, will, on the contrary, stressed the relative independence of these two worlds of these two sciences. Bauman, Liquid modernity , Polity Press, Cambridge, , pp. It is therefore clear difference between the two concepts are so close that they were often confused, namely those of social structure and social relations.
Social relationships are the raw material used for the construction of models that make manifest the social structure. In no case, therefore, it can be identified as the set of social relationships observable in a given society. Looks like you are currently in Finland but have requested a page in the United States site. Would you like to change to the United States site? Zygmunt Bauman. Through his brilliant account of the fears and anxieties that weigh on us today, Bauman alerts us to the scale of the task which we shall have to confront through most of the current century if we wish our fellow humans to emerge at its end feeling more secure and self-confident than we feel at its beginning.
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Liquid Fear. Selected type: Paperback.