Culture and cosmopolis … liquid-modern adventures of an idea

Authored by: Zygmunt Bauman

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138288621
eBook ISBN: 9781315267784
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315267784-70

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Abstract

How have the implications of culture changed in the twenty-first century? For Bourdieu, culture was used to signify and maintain differences between classes. He turned upside down the Enlightenment idea of “culture.” At the transient moment when Bourdieu studied “distinction,” culture already was being transformed via the passage to “liquid modernity,” also termed “postmodernity,” “late modernity,” or “hypermodernity.” Modern “progress” is now mixed with curses. The 2016 Brexit episode, the US election of Donald Trump, and other contemporary populist movements manifest a “retrotopian tendency” that is thoroughly reworking the defining principles of “democracy.” Partly, these developments respond to new diasporas that unsettle bonds between identity and citizenship, neighborhood and belonging, forcing the issue of “living with differences” and yielding battles over identity and recognition. Under these conditions, culture in its liquid-modern phase is made to the measure of individual freedom (enacted on the grids of consumer choices and social media applications). Culture’s liquid-modern reincarnation is prompted and operated by the same neoliberal forces that promote emancipation of the markets from non-economic restraints. We urgently need to narrow the “cultural lag” between emergent conditions in the world and increasingly outdated consciousness of its populations and elites.

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