Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty

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Social forms and institutions no longer have enough time to solidify and cannot serve as frames of reference for human actions and long-term life plans, so individuals have to find other ways to organise their lives. Such fragmented lives require individuals to be flexible and adaptable — to be constantly ready and willing to change tactics at short notice, to abandon commitments and loyalties without regret and to pursue opportunities according to their current availability.

In liquid modernity the individual must act, plan actions and calculate the likely gains and losses of acting or failing to act under conditions of endemic uncertainty. Liquid Modern Life and its Fears.

Humanity on the Move. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. Sort order. Toinen luku Humanity on the Move liittyy humanismin ja siihen liittyvien ajatusten uudelleenarviointiin. Vihasta, pelonhallinnasta ja sen kanavoimisesta on tullut osa markkinavoimia ja markkinataloutta, ihmissalakuljetusta, infosotaa jne. Out of Touch Together -luvussa pohditaan nyky-yhteiskunnan urbanistoitumista ja sen paradoksaalisuutta. Rikollisuuteen ajaa esim. There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

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Zygmunt Bauman. Zygmunt Bauman was a world-renowned Polish sociologist and philosopher, and Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds. Other books in the series. Liquid Series 8 books. Books by Zygmunt Bauman. Unloading such urges may temporarily, yet repeatedly trlieve rising tensions. Each successive offload renews the hope frustrated by the one before: that, even if the off- putting and disconcerting differences prove unassailable mul intractable, perhaps at least the poison may be miucczed out of their stings by assigning to each form of life II h separate, inclusive as well as exclusive, well-marked and well-guarded physical spaces.

Mixophobia mani fests itself in the drive towards islands of similarity and wmieness amidst the sea of variety and difference. The roots of mixophobia are banal, not at all difficult to locate, easy to understand though not necessarily easy to lorgive. Feeling imnraon bonds without common experience occurs in the lirst place because men are afraid of participation, afraid of the dangers and the challenges of it, afraid of its pain. Like all pal liatives, it may at most promise only a shelter from some of their most immediate and most feared effects.

Choosing the escape option as the medicine for mixopho bia has an insidious and deleterious consequence of its own: once adopted, the allegedly therapeutic regime becomes self- perpetuating and self-reinforcing the more ineffective it is. Since they have forgotten or neglected to acquire the skills necessary for a gratifying life amidst difference, there is little wonder that the seekers and practitioners of escape therapy view the prospect of confronting the strangers face-to-face with rising horror.

Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty

Out of Touch Together 89 Mixophobia, though, is not the sole combatant on the urban battlefield. City living is a notoriously ambivalent experience. It attracts and repels. To make the plight of the city dweller still more harrowing and difficult to repair, it is the same aspects of city life that, intermittently or simultaneously, attract and repel. The same kaleidoscope like twinkle and glimmer of the urban scenery, however never short of novelty and surprise, constitutes its difficult- to-resist charm and seductive power.

Confronting the never-stopping and constantly dazzling spectacle of the city is not therefore experienced unam biguously as a bane and a curse; nor is sheltering from it felt as a pure blessing. The city prompts mixophilia as much as it sows and feeds mixophobia. Intrinsically and irrepara bly, city life is an ambivalent affair.

The bigger and more heterogeneous a city, the more attractions it may support and offer. The massive conden sation of strangers is, simultaneously, a repellent and a most powerful magnet, drawing to the city ever new cohorts of men and women weary of the monotony of rural or small-town life, fed up with its repetitive routines - and despairing of the prospect-less dearth of chances. Variety is a promise of opportunities, many and different opportun ities, opportunities fitting all skills and any taste - and so the bigger the city the more likely it is to attract a growing number of people who reject or are denied opportunities and chances of adventure in places that are smaller and so less tolerant of idiosyncrasy and more close-fisted in the liberties they offer or indeed tolerate.

Neither ol the two is likely to exhaust itself, or lose any of its vigotn in the course of city renewal and the refurbishment ol city space. Admittedly, this is an uneasy coexistence, full of sound ami fury - though signifying a lot to the people on the receiv ing end of liquid modern ambivalence. Given the rising human mobility of the liquid modern epoch and the accelerated changes in the cast, plots anil settings of the urban scene, the complete eradication ol mixophobia does not seem to be on the cards.

PerhapN something can be done, however, to influence the propor tions in which mixophilia and mixophobia are mixed ami to reduce the confusing impact of mixophobia, and the anxiety and anguish it generates. Indeed, it seems thui architects and urban planners could do quite a lot to assist the growth of mixophilia and minimize the occasions for mixophobic responses to the challenges of city life. Ami there seems to be a lot that they can do and indeed are doing to facilitate the opposite effects. Mixophobic paranoia feeds upon itself and acts as a self- lullilling prophecy.

If segregation is offered and taken up as n radical cure for the dangers represented by strangers, cohabitation with strangers becomes more difficult by the day. Homogenizing living quarters and then reducing to an unavoidable minimum all commerce and communication between them is a foolproof recipe for intensifying and deepening the urge to exclude and segregate. Such a measure may temporarily help to reduce the pains suffered by people afflicted with mixophobia, but the cure is itself pathogenic and makes the affliction deeper and less curable, so that ever new and stronger doses of the medi cine are needed to keep the pain at a tolerably low level.

More favourable to the entrenchment and cultivation of mixophiliac sentiments would be the opposite architectural and urban planning strategy: the propagation of open, invit ing and hospitable public spaces which all categories of urban residents would be tempted to attend regularly and knowingly and willingly share. The most harrowing contemporary fears are born ol' existential uncertainty. Their roots reach well beyonil urban living conditions, and whatever might be done inside the city and at the scale of city space and city-managed resources to cut those roots will stop well short of what that undertaking would require.

The mixophobia haunting the cohabitation of city residents is not the source of their anxiety, but a product of a perverse and misleading inter pretation of its sources; a manifestation of desperate attempts, in the end inconclusive, to mitigate the pain that anxiety inflicts —by removing the rash while mistaking it for the cure of the illness. It is mixophilia, as ingrained in city life as its mixophobic opposition, that carries a germ of hope: not only the hope of making urban living - a kind of living that calls for cohabitation and interaction with an enormous, perhaps infinite variety of strangers - less worrying and easier to practise, but also the hope of miti gating the tensions arising, from similar causes, at the planetary scale.

As mentioned before, nowadays cities are dumping grounds for globally produced troubles; but they may also be seen as laboratories in which the ways and means of living with difference, still to be learned by the residents of an increasingly overcrowded planet, are daily invented, put to the test, memorized and assimilated.

Utopia in the Age of Uncertainty The lives of even the happiest people among us or, by n common and somewhat envy-tainted opinion of the unhappy, the luckiest are anything but trouble-free. Few of us are ready to declare that everything in their life works as they would like it to work - and even those few know moments of doubt. We are all familiar with unpleasant and uncomfortable occasions when things or people cause us worries we would not expect them, and certainly not wish them, to cause.

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The suddenness of the blows, their irregularity, their nasty ability to appear from any direction - all that makes them unpredictable, and us defenceless. As long as dangers remain eminently free-floating, freakish and frivolous, we are their sitting targets - there is pretty little we can do, if anything at all, to prevent them. Such hopelessness is frightening. Uncertainty means fear. A regular world. A predictable world. N ot a poker-faced world; even if some philosophers, like I. To put ii in 11 nutshell, we dream of a reliable world, one we can i r i i N t. A secure world.

When Sir Thomas More penned his blueprint for a world free from unpre dictable threats, improvisation and experimentation Ira light with risks and errors were fast becoming the order nl the day. His numerous lollowers and imitators, however, were more resolute or less cautious. That confidence gave them the courage and the gumption to try both. For the next few centuries, the modern world was to be an optimistic world; a world-living-towards-utopia.

It wun also to be a world believing that a society without utopia in not liveable, and consequently a life without utopia is not worth living. If in doubt, one could always rely on the authority of the brightest and most adored minds around. For instance, on Oscar Wilde: A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress iN the realization of Utopias.

With the benefit of a hindsight, one is inclined to correct the last sentence, though - and this on two accounts. First, progress was a chase after utopias, rather than their realiza tion. Utopias played the role of a dummy rabbit - fer ociously pursued but never caught by racing dogs. Utopia in the Age of Uncertainty 97 From across the Channel came an opinion which i liimed well with that of Oscar Wilde, set down by another wise man, Anatole France: Without the Utopias of other times, men would still live in aives, miserable and naked.

It was Utopians who traced the lines of the first city. Out of generous dreams come beneiicial realities. Utopia is the principle of all progress, and Ilie essay into a better future. It seemed obvious to Anatole France, as it did to many of his con temporaries, that even the troglodytes had to dream their utopias so that we might no longer live in caves. I irst and foremost, a utopia is an image of another universe, dillcrent from the universe one knows or knows of.

But the idea that human beings can replace the world-that-is with another and different world, ii world entirely of their own making, was almost wholly abseni from human thought before the advent of modern times. The grindingly monotonous self-reproduction of pre- modern forms of human life, subject only to changes too sluggish to be noted, gave little inspiration and even less encouragement to ruminations on alternative forms ol human life on earth, except in the shape of apocalypses or the last judgment, both of them of divine provenance.

To be born, the utopian dream needed two conditions. First, an overwhelming even if diffuse and as yet inarticu late feeling that the world was not functioning properly and was unlikely to be set right without a thorough over haul.

Utopia in the Age of Uncertainty | Deakin University

In short, confidence was needed that under human management the world could be put into a shape more suitable for the satisfaction of human needs - whatever those needs already were or might yet become. Not so the gardener; he assumes that there would be no order in the world at all or at least in the small part of that world entrusted to his wardenship were it not for his con- Munt attention and effort.

It is the gardeners who tend to be the most keen and expert one is tempted to say, professional utopia-makers. Mosl certainly, they would not consider it to be their duty to make sure that the supply of game roaming in the forest will be replenished after and despite their hunt. If the woods have been emptied of game due to a particularly profitable escapade, hunters may move to another relatively unspoiled wilderness, still teeming with would-be hunting trophies. Such a distant prospect will not after all jeopardize the results of the current hunt, or the next one, and so surely there is nothing in it to oblige me, just one single hunter among many, or us, just one single hunting association among many, to ponder, let alone do something about it.

We are all hunters now, or told to be hunters and called or compelled to act as hunters do, on penalty of eviction from hunting, if not perish the thought!

Liquid Times : Living in an Age of Uncertainty

And whenever we look around, we are likely mostly to see other lonely hunters like us, or hunters hunting in packs the way we also occasionally try to do. They favour hunting and hunters instead.

And so are we perhaps indeed witnessing the end of utopia? And it would have good reason to say so. Let us have a closer look, however, at the websites listed. Then, scattered here and there, there are some references to the history of utopian ideas and to centres offering courses in that history, catering mostly for lovers of antiques and collectors of curiosities - the most common references among them going back to Sir Thomas More himself, the forefather of the whole thing. However, between them such websites constitute a minor ity of entries.

Rather than a chase after a target spinning along, it Implies a threat that makes a lucky escape imperative; it limpireK the urge to run away from a disaster breathing down your neck. Progress ii; no longer thought about in the context of an urge to i null ahead, but in connection with a desperate effort to May in the race.

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Time flows on, and the trick is to keep pace wnli the waves. Increasingly, escape now becomes the name of the most popular game in town. Semantically, escape is the very opposite of utopia, but psychologically it is, under present circumstances, its sole available substitute: one might say its new, updated and state-of-the-art rendition, refash ioned to the measure of our deregulated, individualized society of consumers. Insecurity is here to stay, whatever happens. What is left for your concerns and efforts, and having to attract most of your attention and powers, is the fight against losing: try at least to stay among the hunters, since the only alternative is to find yourself among the hunted. To be performed properly and with a chance of success, the fight against losing will require your full, undivided attention, vigilance twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week, and above all keeping on the move - as fast as you can. Utopia in the Age of Uncertainty Joseph Brodsky, the Russian-American philosopher- poei, vividly described the kind of life that has been set in motion and prompted by the compulsion to escape. A part from the self-gratifying gadgets m entioned before, you m ay take up changing jo b s, residence, com pany, country, clim ate, you may take up prom iscuity, nlcohol, travel, cooking lessons, drugs, psychoanalysis.

In fact, you may lump all these together, and for a while that limy work. Applying various techniques, we may change our bodies and reshape them according to different patterns. So we fired Him and appointed ourselves the new directors. It did not because when the dream and hope of a better life is fully focused on our own egos and reduced to tinkering with our own bodies or souls, there is no limit to our ambition and temptation to make that ego grow ever bigger, but first of all to refuse to accept any limits.

With no help, trials, fittings, errors and rehashings, and above all without doubts? The pain which used to be caused by unduly limited choice has now been replaced by no less a pain - though this time the pain is caused by an obligation to choose without trusting the choices made and without confidence that further choices will bring the target any closer. Because if it were, the fun would end. I hinting is a full-time task, it consumes a lot of attention mul energy, it leaves little or no time for anything else; and n o it averts attention from the unendingness of the task and postpones ad calendas graecas the moment of reflection ilming which the impossibility of the task ever being lullilled would need to be faced point blank.

The snag is, though, that once tried, the hunt turns into n compulsion, an addiction and obsession. Catching a hare would be an anticlimax; it would only make the prospect of another hunt more seductive, since the hopes that accom pany the hunt have been found to be the most delightful the only delightful? In one respect it is, in so far as the early modern utopias envisaged a point at which time would come to a stop; indeed, an end of time as history.

In addition, the prospect of an end to hunting is nol tempting but frightening in a society of hunters - sinco such an end may arrive only in the form of a personal defeat and exclusion. If a life of continuing and continuous hunting is another utopia, it is - contrary to the utopias of the past - a utopia without an end.

A strange, unorthodox utopia - but a utopia all the same, promising the same unattainable prize brandished by all utopias, namely an ultimate and radical solution to human problems past, present and future, and an ultimate and radical cure for the sorrows and pains of the human condition. Instead of living towards a utopia, hunters are ollered a living inside a utopia.

I''or the gardeners, utopia was the end of the road; for 11ic hunters it is the road itself. Gardeners visualized the mil ol'tlie road as the vindication and the ultimate triumph ol utopia. Adding insult to Injury, il would also be a thoroughly personal defeat and tlliiching proof of personal failure. There is little if any pumped of other hunters stopping their hunting, and so IIi f nun participation in the ongoing hunt can only feel like 11ir Ignominy of personal exclusion, and so presumably o l p e r s o n a l inadequacy.

But its immortality has been achieved h i t i n - p r i c e of the frailty and vulnerability of each and all n l 11 ii in c enchanted and seduced to live it. Having reshaped the course of life into mi unending series of self-focused pursuits, each episode lived through as an overture to the next, it offers no occasion Ini rrllection about the direction and sense of it all. Bui no one could claim to record better the dilemmas the players face than has already been done in the words given to Marco Polo by the great Italo Calvino in L a citta invisibili: The inferno of the living is not something that will be: if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together.

There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space. Due modi ci sono per non soffrirne. Whether living in a society of hunters does or does not feel like living in hell is of course a contentious matter; most seasoned hunters will tell you that being a hunter among hunters has its blissful moments.

I O uoiai from Matthew J. Agnes Schwarzschild, Routledge, , pp. They physically whipped them back at the border crossings. The children suffered the most: dysentery, typhoid, malnutrition. II lltiil. I ' lliiil. Calhoun n l. The article was first published in the Nation. Seuil, , p.

Richard Ashby Wilson and Jon P. Mitchell, Routledge, 2 00 3 , pp. Diken and C. Notes to Pages I i. I Nii'plu-n! Nan Ellin, Princeton Au hiu-euiral Press, , pp. I t Mild. Wheeler, Y. Aoyama and B. Warf, Routledge, , pp. H ill,. Related Papers. Refugees and asylum seekers: Barriers to accessing South Africa's labour market. By Callixte Kavuro.