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Ethics and Soci(ologic)al Theory

The celebrity as liquid modern character type

Recognising Bauman’s lucidity- and, undeniably- his continued intrigue for the idiosyncrasies and peculiarities of our current age, perhaps we should not be overly surprised as to Bauman’s choice to use Kim Kardashian’s infamous sex tape as an example of celebritydom in the 21st Century. Despite the somewhat surreal nature of hearing an octogenarian intellectual describe in what was, thankfully, not too gruesome a level of detail the rise of Kardashian’s fame in his Liberty Lecture last month, ‘What makes a hero?’, Bauman’s analysis, with some consideration, on the rise of the phenomenon of the celebrity remains ever intriguing on a sociological level. Continue reading

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Some notes on Zygmunt Bauman’s lecture, ‘What makes a hero?’

poznanThose more familiar with Zygmunt Bauman’s work may have recognised Wednesday’s lecture at the Howard Assembly Room as a very slight variation on a theme developed in the second chapter of Liquid Life (2005), entitled ‘From Martyr to Hero, and From Hero to Celebrity’. This should probably not come as too much of a surprise. As Bauman (2012: 3) has recently confessed, “a new topic for scrutiny … is no longer on my cards.” However, this in no way denigrates the content of the lecture itself, which provided an opportunity for both new readers of Bauman, and those who have been reading his work for many years, to hear him lecture on a topic which seldom makes its way into the critical commentaries: heroism. In fact, due to Bauman’s immense output (over thirty books since his retirement in 1990, and even more articles and interviews), even for those long-term readers it must no doubt have been refreshing to be reminded of aspects of his thought that had either been entirely forgotten, or quite simply passed over. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Blog, Consumerism and Sustainability, Ethics and Soci(ologic)al Theory, News and tagged , , , .

All that is solid melts into air?

Having been the inspiration for, Liquid Modernity can now claim a new offspring –

Abundance hopes to disrupt the conventions of money and financial services which deliberately alienate and disorientate the individual by allowing ordinary people to earn cash by investing directly in renewable energy production.  The minimum investment is £5 which makes it the first truly accessible retail investment product authorised by the FSA in more than a decade.

Democratic finance won’t be stopping there, once we have proven the model with wind and solar farms, we will be enlisting truly public money in the financing of other forms of big society or good society (depending on your political persuasion/ glossary) including schools, hospitals, etc.

Launch is planned to be very soon – proof that the problem with money is not that the system is ‘broken’ and anti-social, just that people need to take back control and bring money back into the social domain.

This entry was posted in Consumerism and Sustainability, Ethics and Soci(ologic)al Theory, News.

The art of essay writing

I very much liked Mark’s ‘thought piece’ published in Compass, the topic of Mark’s last post, Bauman’s compass, and on which I commented. It has made me think that the article I am currently writing on the practical and policy implications of Zygmunt’s thoughts on what sociology is under conditions of liquid modernity and what it can contribute to the formation and development of a new left movement could well be construed as an essay. If so I could offer it to Compass or perhaps this Community could offer a platform for members to contribute think pieces and essays. One or two delegates at the Rethinking Global Society conference suggested this might be a useful development of the Institute’s community site. This has not been discussed with Mark yet but it would interesting to get members’ views. I am supposing that an essay is, as the word suggests, a trial of an idea and that although conforming to certain scholarly standards, would not necessarily have the rigour of argumentation and referencing of a formal peer reviewed article. It is likely to be rather more experimental, suggestive and personal. This is not to say there wouldn’t have to be some sort of editorial process. But this would be a matter for discussion. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Blog, Ethics and Soci(ologic)al Theory, Renewing Politics and Civil Society, The Social Thought of Zygmunt Bauman and tagged , .

Feminist research on racism, nationalism and ethnic relations

Hi there, I am engaged primarily with feminist research on racism, nationalism and ethnic relations (ISA/ RC05). The recent election results in the Netherlands, but also in other European countries hint at a persistent renaissance of chauvinism, xenophoby, embodied in anti-Muslim racism in Europe. I was wondering what you guys have to say on the current and future ethics of academic research via these challenges?

This entry was posted in Ethics and Soci(ologic)al Theory.

Encounters: Representation of the Others in Modern European History

“Encounters: Representation of the Others in Modern European History”, ed. by Madeleine Hurd

“This anthology utilizes the concept of encounters to investigate the linked constructions of identity and difference in modern European history. The articles use representations of others to ask basic questions about identity: how is the encountered group described, and what does this description say about the observer and about the cultural group and discourse that the observer represents?

The studies span 150 years and a wide geographical area (Germany,the U.S., Sweden and Russia). Importantly, they also demonstrate how descriptions of the “other” vary according to the media used. The form in which the representation is placed – in novels, travel literature, web sites, newspapers or World Fairs – affects the way in which its messages on identity and otherness are conceptualised and conveyed. These articles, thus, not only present insights into how the discourses of, e.g., race, Orientalism, educational, gender and class hierarchies affect concepts of “us and the others”. They also show how the medium functions as an integral part of that message”.

fulltext of the book (as PDF) can be accessed at the following link:

This entry was posted in Ethics and Soci(ologic)al Theory.

Ethics and Soci(ologic)al Theory

This group might be a platform suitable for reflecting upon such concepts, notions and questions as ethics, morality, immorality, indifference, subjectivity, ethical responsibility, solidarity, sociality, politics, ‘being with others’, ‘being for the other’, justice, contingency, ambivalence, nonidentity, ethics in modernity, postmodernity and ‘liquidity’, ethics as a subject matter for and a problematic implicit in sociology, reflexivity, moral meaning of the practice of social inquiry, etc., themes which also are at the very centre of the Z. Bauman’s thought.

This entry was posted in Ethics and Soci(ologic)al Theory.

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