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Wasted Lives: Modernity and Its Outcasts

ISBN: 978-0-7456-3164-6
152 pages
December 2003, Polity
Wasted Lives: Modernity and Its Outcasts (0745631649) cover image
The production of ‘human waste’ – or more precisely, wasted lives, the ‘superfluous’ populations of migrants, refugees and other outcasts – is an inevitable outcome of modernization. It is an unavoidable side-effect of economic progress and the quest for order which is characteristic of modernity.


As long as large parts of the world remained wholly or partly unaffected by modernization, they were treated by modernizing societies as lands that were able to absorb the excess of population in the ‘developed countries’. Global solutions were sought, and temporarily found, to locally produced overpopulation problems. But as modernization has reached the furthest lands of the planet, ‘redundant population’ is produced everywhere and all localities have to bear the consequences of modernity’s global triumph. They are now confronted with the need to seek – in vain, it seems – local solutions to globally produced problems. The global spread of the modernity has given rise to growing quantities of human beings who are deprived of adequate means of survival, but the planet is fast running out of places to put them. Hence the new anxieties about ‘immigrants’ and ‘asylum seekers’ and the growing role played by diffuse ‘security fears’ on the contemporary political agenda.


With characteristic brilliance, this new book by Zygmunt Bauman unravels the impact of this transformation on our contemporary culture and politics and shows that the problem of coping with ‘human waste’ provides a key for understanding some otherwise baffling features of our shared life, from the strategies of global domination to the most intimate aspects of human relationships.

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Acknowledgements.

Introduction.

1 In the beginning was design - Or the waste of order-building.

2 Are there too many of them? - Or the waste of economic progress.

3 To each waste its dumping site - Or the waste of globalization.

4 Culture of Waste.

Notes

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Zygmunt Bauman is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds and the University of Warsaw.
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  • a brilliant new book by Zygmunt Bauman - one of the most creative social
    thinkers writing today;
  • a highly original analysis of migrant populations, refugees and other
    populations which are the 'outcasts' of modernity;
  • shows that the problem of how to cope with these 'superfluous' populations,
    the 'human waste' of modernization, goes to the heart of what modernity and
    globalization are all about;
  • this is Bauman at his best - highly original, very well written and very
    topical.
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"This is a rather brilliant, dense and chaotic meditation on ideas of waste in our time of what Bauman terms "liquid modernity" ... A sparkling and highly suggestive read." The Guardian
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