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Retrotopia Hardcover – 20 Jan 2017
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About the Author
Zygmunt Bauman (1925–2017) was Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Leeds.
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However the subject is a very interesting and relevant for the times we are going through now and it is worth making the effort. Our hope for the future has, over recent times, become more of a nostalgia for the past - a past that is more perfect in hindsight than it was in reality. If you can get used to the florid language, this book presents a very interesting analysis of the history, philosophy, politics and sociology around the idea. Bearing in mind all the 'back to basics' tub thumping that seems to go on whenever there is an election, this book is an excellent resource to help you get behind the PR and see the reality. A great read and resource for any student interested in the field - or any enthusiastic lay person.
It's standard Bauman- no real surprises, usual erudition and clear thought obscured a little by a sometimes stilted but always digestible prose style. The theme here is based on the common [mis]conception of endless progress and the march towards utopia, but the reality in our current culture is more one of a back to the future, as we on one hand cling to the last vestiges of modernism and want to dismiss history as being incapable of telling us anything of value, and yet at the same time postmodernism grips us as we begin to look to our past in order to create a legible and realistic future.
The contradiction is glaringly evident and that is of course the character of our times, and why the managerial political elite are becoming adrift of the wider body politic. There are also hints here of the growing 21st century alternative right ideology of respecting and utilising established tradition and arcane culture, on which is to build a new, non-liberal future. Bauman touches on these ideas but seems to skit around them a bit, and the whole book, as much as I like his thinking, on the whole seems a bit vague and ill-focused. One simple idea, seems to be taken out for too much of a run. That said there's ideas aplenty here to mull over and although it is not ultimately a satisfying read, you feel you have gained at least a little something by the end of it. Not a Bauman classic, but there again, he already set his own bar high many years ago.
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