Ali Rattansi
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Why did Bauman become a postmodernist?
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The Enlightenment, or a particular, selective interpretation of it, was a key target of the postmodernists who attacked its supposed hyper-rationalism and militant universalism. Zygmunt Bauman had already absorbed the Frankfurt School's Critical Theory version of the critique of Enlightenment as set out, in the aftermath of the Holocaust, by Horkheimer and Adorno in their Dialectic of Enlightenment. For Bauman, the citizens of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe rejected modernity in favour of a postmodernity of choice and freedom. However, this for Bauman meant overwhelmingly a new social order that prioritised nothing nobler than consumer choice and the provision of a cornucopia of consumer goods. Bauman had an ambivalent relation to the postmodern turn, being attracted to its critique of rationalism and universalism but critical of any celebration of affluent consumerism. He was usually hostile to the new social movements of women, blacks, gays and others.

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Bauman and contemporary sociology

A critical analysis


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