Ali Rattansi
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‘Solid’ modernity
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Zygmunt Bauman was well aware of a major pitfall in using analogies for characterising what he saw as a crucial faultline between 'solid' and 'liquid' in the history of modernity. Marx and Engels in a now famous passage in The Communist Manifesto referred to their period of capitalism as one in which change was so rapid that 'all that is solid melts into air'. Bauman's answer is that in Marx's time, and throughout the phase of 'solid modernity', socio-economic change, although rapid and ubiquitous, was always only a temporary state of affairs, with one solid set of social relations soon replaced by another solid social stage. The first stage of melting led to the 'melting' of feudal social relations, the installing of the capitalist economy and the dominance of what Weber called 'instrumental rationality'. However, this soon began to solidify into a particular form of heavy capitalist modernity.

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Bauman and contemporary sociology

A critical analysis

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