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In Search of Politics

Zygmunt Bauman

ISBN: 978-0-745-62172-2 June 1999 Polity 212 Pages


We live in a world which no longer questions itself, which lives from one day to another managing successive crises and struggling to brace itself for new ones, without knowing where it is going and without trying to plan the itinerary. And everything important in our lives - livelihood, human bonds, partnerships, neighbourhood, goals worth pursuing and dangers to avoid - feels transient, precarious, vulnerable, insecure, uncertain, risky. Is there a connection between the shape of the world we inhabit and the way we live our lives? Exploring that connection, and finding out just how close it is, is the main concern of this book.

What is at stake in this inquiry is the possibility of re-building the"'private/public" space, where private troubles and public issues meet and where citizens engage in dialogue in order to govern themselves. Individual liberty can only be a product of collective work, it can only be collectively secured and guaranteed. And yet today we are moving towards a privatization of the means to secure individual liberty. If seen as a therapy for the present ills, this is bound to produce effects of a most sinister kind. The act of translating private troubles into public issues is in danger of falling into disuse and being forgotten. The argument of this book is that making the translation possible again is an urgent and vital imperative for the renewal of politics today.

This new book by Zygmunt Bauman - one of the most original and creative thinkers of our time - will be of particular interest to students of sociology, politics and social and political theory.


1. In Search of Public Space.

2. In Search of Agency.

Excursus 1: Ideology in the Postmodern World. Excursus.

Excursus 2: Tradition and Autonomy in the Postmodern World. Excursus.

Excursus 3: Postmodernity and Moral and Cultural Crisis.

3. In Search of Vision.



"With In Search of Politics, the prolific Zygmunt Bauman joins other European social theorists in seeking to illuminate the current political landscape...The account is at times persuasive and never less than eloquent" Sam Pryke, The Times Higher Education Supplement

'Zygmunt Bauman can be counted among those giants of sociology - C. Wright Mills, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber - who are bound together not by a shared ideological or disciplinary alignment, but by a profound and moral passion. I do not employ the term "moral" in the commonly used sense of "judgmental", but to describe their ability to define the spirit of the age, to ask cutting questions about society's direction, warn of dangers and perceive opportunities ... In Search of Politics is a plea for the return of politics, in the classic sense, politics as a sense of membership of a polis, a community with shared tasks.' Contemporary Politics

'Bauman's thesis is accessible, persuasive and vividly presented ... it flows with ideas and passion.' Sociology

'The book has a clear normative approach, which the strength of Bauman's arguments and the force of his writing make quite compelling ... The great value of this book is Bauman's unique ability to critique the modern categories and values, without at the same time rejecting them out of hand.' Peace Research

* A major new book by Zygmunt Bauman - one of the most original and creative social thinkers writing today.
* Bauman brings his distinctive approach to bear on a theme which he has not previously addressed in detail: the changing nature of politics in contemporary societies.
* He develops an original and provocative argument about the decline of the public realm and the need for its renewal.