How does Bauman understand the concept of freedom, and how does this understanding relate to the political traditions of conservatism, liberalism and socialism? Mark Davis offers a critical enquiry into the sociology of Zygmunt Bauman, focusing on his English-language writings from the 1960s onwards. The book contributes to sociological debates about modern society by offering an interpretation of Bauman's work based on the concept of freedom, especially in terms of his extensive consideration of consumerism. Existing studies of Bauman have tended to focus uncritically upon other salient themes in his work, notably culture, power and socialism; Davis repairs the lack of critical engagement in the literature by identifying freedom as a focus for critical reflection. He also opens up new areas of discourse by analyzing Bauman's understanding of freedom in relation to the three great political traditions of conservatism, liberalism and socialism. This is an original contribution to discussions around Bauman's work which will be of interest to both sociologists and political theorists.
'This is one of the most important books about the most important sociologist of our time. Mark Davis adds a necessary and valuable critical edge to the debate, and shows how Bauman's challenging and vital imagination can be used in the service of human freedom. An essential book.' Keith Tester, University of Portsmouth, UK 'Zygmunt Bauman has long been recognized as one of the most important social thinkers and public intellectuals in Europe. This outstanding book bears comparison with the very best existing work on Bauman, and is an extremely valuable complement to it.' William Outhwaite, Newcastle University, UK 'Surfing a new wave of Bauman studies, Mark Davis urges us to read this major social theorist differently, anew.' Peter Beilharz, La Trobe University, Australia 'Who is Zygmunt Bauman? "The greatest sociologist writing in English today…" announces an early chapter in this book. Well, if he isn't, who is? Mark Davis, in his plain, open-minded and admirable study, takes nothing for granted about his grand subject, but works his way through an account of Bauman's enormous oeuvre to a conclusion that leaves us in little doubt about the man's importance.' The Times Higer Education '… provides a useful mapping of Bauman's books and covers some notable commentators who have studied Bauman's works in their own monographs. … The information gathered here is helpful because we understand how each commentator would interpret Bauman's research and methods in a unique direction… the best introduction to Bauman's books because it successfully highlights the original ideas that are disseminated into so many works. … Mark Davis succeeded in finding valuable addenda to Bauman's ideas, bringing sets of influences, interpretations and discussions.' Acta Sociologica
Contents: Introduction; Part I: Biographical solutions and sociological contradictions: who is Zygmunt Bauman?; Existing interpretations of Bauman's writings. Part II: Freedom as insecurity; Freedom as choice; Freedom as privilege. Part III : Bauman, conservatism and freedom; Bauman, liberalism and freedom; Bauman, socialism and freedom; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.