Ali Rattansi
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‘Liquid’ modernity vs ‘reflexive’ modernity
Bauman’s problem of agency, again
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Zygmunt Bauman's conception of agency has been a source of some debate, and has often been tied in to a concern over whether he is fundamentally a pessimist or an optimist. Dawson has argued, however, that once Bauman's Levinasian understanding of morality is taken into account, together with his conception of culture and the inevitability of moral choice, not only is he an optimist but he has an adequate notion of the powers of individual agency. Dawson relies on Bauman's assertion that the liquid phase of modernity results in an expansion of moral choices in the 'life world'. Bauman himself undermines this interpretation. This can be seen in his comment about his attitude to Beck's notion of 'reflexive modernity' in response to a question from Gane and about why he had chosen to speak of liquid rather than reflexive modernity.

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Bauman and contemporary sociology

A critical analysis

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