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Zygmunt Bauman


Zygmunt Bauman (Poznań, Polonia, 1925) es un sociólogo, filósofo y ensayista polaco. Es conocido por acuñar el término, y desarrollar el concepto, de la «modernidad líquida». Junto con el también sociólogo Alain Touraine, Bauman es ganador del Premio Príncipe de Asturias de Comunicación y Humanidades 2010.

Nació en Poznan (Polonia) en una humilde familia judía. Huyendo de los nazis se trasladó a la Unión Soviética para regresar posteriormente a Polonia, donde militó en el Partido Comunista y fue profesor de filosofía y sociología en la Universidad de Varsovia antes de verse obligado a irse de Polonia en 1968 a causa de la política antisemita desarrollada por el gobiernocomunista después de los sucesos de marzo de 1968. Posteriormente a su purga de la universidad de Varsovia, ha enseñado sociología en países como Israel, Estados Unidos y Canadá.

Desde 1971 reside en Inglaterra. Es profesor en la Universidad de Leeds de ese país. Y, desde 1990, es profesor emérito. Su obra comienza en los años 50 y se ocupa, entre otras cosas, de cuestiones tales como las clases sociales, el socialismo, el holocausto, la hermenéutica, la modernidad y la posmodernidad, el consumismo, la globalización y la nueva pobreza.

Bauman ha sido galardonado con los siguientes premios:

  • 1989 – Premio Europeo Amalfi de Sociología y Ciencias Sociales (Italia).
  • 1998 – Premio Theodor W. Adorno de la ciudad de Fráncfort (Alemania).
  • 2010 – Premio Príncipe de Asturias de Comunicación y Humanidades.



Zygmunt Bauman was born to non-practising Polish-Jewish parents in Poznań, Poland, in 1925. When Poland was invaded by the Nazis in 1939 his family escaped eastwards into the Soviet Union. Bauman went on to serve in the Soviet-controlled Polish First Army, working as a political education instructor. He took part in the battles of Kolberg (now Kołobrzeg) and Berlin. In May 1945 he was awarded the Military Cross of Valour.

According to semi-official statements of a historian with the Polish Institute of National Remembrance made in the conservative magazine Ozon in May 2006, from 1945 to 1953 Bauman held a similar function in the Internal Security Corps (KBW), a military unit formed to combat Ukrainian nationalist insurgents and part of the remnants of the Polish Home Army.

Bauman, the magazine states, distinguished himself as the leader of a unit that captured a large number of underground combatants. Further, the author cites evidence that Bauman worked as an informer for the Military Intelligence from 1945 to 1948. However, the nature and extent of his collaboration remain unknown, as well as the exact circumstances under which it was terminated.

In an interview in The Guardian, Bauman confirmed that he had been a committed communist during and after World War II and had never made a secret of it. He admitted, however, that joining the military intelligence service at age 19 was a mistake even though he had a «dull» desk-job and did not remember informing on anyone.

While serving in the KBW, Bauman first studied sociology at the Warsaw Academy of Social Sciences. He went on to study philosophy at the University of Warsaw — sociology had temporarily been cancelled from the Polish curriculum as a «bourgeois» discipline — and his teachers at Warsaw included Stanisław Ossowski and Julian Hochfeld.

In the KBW, Bauman had risen to the rank of major when he was suddenly dishonourably discharged in 1953, after his father approached the Israeli embassy in Warsaw with a view to emigrating to Israel. As Bauman did not share his father’s Zionist tendencies and was indeed strongly anti-Zionist, his dismissal caused a severe, though temporary estrangement from his father. During the period of unemployment that followed, he completed his M.A. and in 1954 became a lecturer at the University of Warsaw, where he remained until 1968.

During a stay at the London School of Economics, where his supervisor was Robert McKenzie, he prepared a comprehensive study on the British socialist movement, his first major book. Published in Polish in 1959, a translated and revised edition appeared in English in 1972.

Bauman went on to publish other books, including Socjologia na co dzień («Sociology for everyday life», 1964), which reached a large popular audience in Poland and later formed the foundation for the English-language text-book Thinking Sociologically (1990).

Initially, Bauman remained close to orthodox Marxist doctrine, but influenced by Antonio Gramsci and Georg Simmel, he became increasingly critical of Poland’s communist government.Because of this he was never awarded a professorship even after he completed his habilitation but, after his former teacher Julian Hochfeld was made vice-director of UNESCO’s Department for Social Sciences in Paris in 1962, Bauman de facto inherited Hochfeld’s chair.

Faced with increasing political pressure and the anti-Semitic campaign led by Mieczysław Moczar, the Chief of the Polish Communist Secret Police, Bauman renounced his membership in the governing Polish United Workers’ Party in January 1968. With the March 1968 events, the anti-Semitic campaign culminated in a purge, which drove most remaining Poles of Jewish descent out of the country, including many intellectuals who had fallen from grace with the communist government. Bauman, who had lost his chair at the University of Warsaw, was among them. Having had to give up Polish citizenship to be allowed to leave the country, he first went to Israel to teach at Tel Aviv University, before accepting a chair in sociology at the University of Leeds, where he intermittently also served as head of department. Since then, he has published almost exclusively in English, his third language, and his repute has grown exponentially. Indeed, from the late 1990s, Bauman exerted a considerable influence on the anti- or alter-globalization movement.

In a 2011 interview in the important Polish weekly «Polityka» Bauman criticized Zionism and Israel, saying Israel was not interested in peace and that it was «taking advantage of the Holocaust to legitimize unconscionable acts.» He compared the Israeli West Bank barrier to the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto where hundreds of thousands of Jews died in the Holocaust. Israeli ambassador to Warsaw, Zvi Bar, called Bauman’s comments «half truths» and «groundless generalizations.»

Bauman was married to writer Janina Lewinson (she died on 29 December 2009 in Leeds) and has three daughters, painter Lydia Bauman, architect Irena Bauman, and Professor of mathematics education Anna Sfard. The noted Israeli civil rights lawyer Michael Sfard is his grandson.

Bauman was awarded the European Amalfi Prize for Sociology and Social Sciences in 1992 and the Theodor W. Adorno Award of the city of Frankfurt in 1998. He has been awarded in 2010, jointly with Alain Touraine, the Príncipe de Asturias Prize for Communication and the Humanities.

The University of Leeds launched the The Bauman Institute within its School of Sociology and Social Policy in Bauman’s honour in September 2010.



Zygmunt Bauman est un sociologue polonais possédant la double nationalité anglaise et polonaise né à Poznań en Pologne le 19 novembre 1925. Il enseigne à l’université de Leeds en Angleterre.

Il a enseigné la philosophie et la sociologie à l’université de Varsovie où il fut lui-même étudiant. Il a été contraint par le régime communiste de quitter la Pologne en 1968lors des persécutions antisémites. Il rejoint l’université de Leeds en 1973.

Il décrit la télé-réalité comme une métaphore du monde global, où « ce qui est mis en scène, c’est la jetabilité, l’interchangeabilité et l’exclusion1 ». Les problèmes sont globaux et la politique locale, le lien entre pouvoir et politique est desserré. Il décrit la société comme liquide2, parce que les liens permanents entre homme et femme sont devenus impossibles. Plus exactement il définit les relations sociales comme de plus en plus impalpables dans la société actuelle. Il prend l’exemple de l’amour ou du sentiment comme témoin de l’impalpabilité des nouvelles relations. Il définit comme responsable la société de consommation actuelle et le modèle économique.

Le concept de redondance de la misère peut aussi lui être attribué. Dans Vies perdues, il le définit comme le développement de zones de pauvretés concentrées autour des villes, et dans les zones de récupération des déchets consommables. Il prend pour illustrer ce concept la métaphore d’Italo Calvino de la ville des nouveautés et des montagnes de récupération.


Zygmunt Bauman

Zygmunt Bauman

Zygmunt Bauman