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Liquid Life

Zygmunt Bauman

ISBN: 978-0-745-63514-9 May 2005 Polity 224 Pages



'Liquid life’ is the kind of life commonly lived in our contemporary, liquid-modern society. Liquid life cannot stay on course, as liquid-modern society cannot keep its shape for long. Liquid life is a precarious life, lived under conditions of constant uncertainty.

The most acute and stubborn worries that haunt this liquid life are the fears of being caught napping, of failing to catch up with fast moving events, of overlooking the ‘use by’ dates and being saddled with worthless possessions, of missing the moment calling for a change of tack and being left behind. Liquid life is also shot through by a contradiction: it ought to be a (possibly unending) series of new beginnings, yet precisely for that reason it is full of worries about swift and painless endings, without which new beginnings would be unthinkable. Among the arts of liquid-modern living and the skills needed to practice them, getting rid of things takes precedence over their acquisition.

This and other challenges of life in a liquid-modern society are traced and unravelled in the successive chapters of this new book by one of the most brilliant and original social thinkers of our time.

Introduction: On Living in a Liquid-Modern World.

1. The Individual Under Siege.

2. From Martyr to Hero, and from Hero to Celebrity.

3. Culture: Obstreperous and Unmanageable.

4. Seeking Shelter in a Pandora Box or Fear, Security and the City.

5. Consumers in Liquid-Modern Times.

Consuming Life.

Consuming Body.

Consuming Childhood.

6. Learning to Walk in Quicksand.

7. Thinking in Dark Times (Arendt and Adorno Revisited).



  • A new book by one of the most original and brilliant social thinkers of our time.

  • Extends and develops some of the key themes in other Bauman titles, namely what it is like to live in a time of ‘liquid modernity’, identity, culture and consumerism.

  • Bauman has become a writer of cult status, and this new book is likely to attract considerable attention.

  • Whilst Bauman’s discussion of life at the beginning of the 21st century is salient for us all, it is likely to become required reading for undergraduate courses on consumer culture and society and on social theory.