Work, Consumerism and the New Poor

Front Cover
Open University Press, 1998 - Business & Economics - 106 pages
"It will be of great interest and value to students, teachers and researchers in sociology and social policy; but it would be good if it were to be read by politicians, journalists and the person in the street too.... It is not possible to convey all the richness and subtlety of Bauman's argument in a short review... [It] provides a very forceful and sophisticated statement of the case; and a very well written one too... As a wide ranging analysis of our present discontents it is an admirable example of the sort of challenge which sociology at its best can offer to us and our fellow citizens to re-assess and re-think our current social arrangements."
Work, Employment and Society

"This is a stylish and persuasive analysis of the transition between the age of the 'society of producers' to that of the 'society of consumers'."
Political Studies

"Zygmunt Bauman presents a cogently argued and compelling thesis describing how the way poverty and the poor are being viewed in Western Society has changed during the course of modern history... this is an important book from a distinguished scholar, that adds a new dimension to the poverty debate."
British Journal of Sociology

  • Can poverty be fought and conquered by orthodox means?
  • Should we seek new solutions like "decoupling" the right to livelihood from the selling of labour and extending the socially recognised concept of work?
  • How urgent is it to confront these social questions and find practical answers?
It is one thing to be poor in a society of producers and universal employment; it is quite a different thing to be poor in a society of consumers, in which life projects are built around the consumer choice rather than work, professional skills or jobs. If "being poor" once derived its meaning from the condition of being unemployed, today it draws its meaning primarily from the plight of a flawed consumer. This is one difference which truly makes a difference - in the way living in poverty is experienced and in the chances and prospects to redeem its misery.

This absorbing book attempts to trace this change, which has been taking place over the duration of modern history, and to make an inventory of its social consequences. On the way, it tries also to consider to what extent the well remembered and tested means of fighting back advancing poverty and mitigating its hardships are fit (or unfit) to grasp and tackle the problems of poverty in its present form. Students of sociology, politics and social policy will find this to be an invaluable text on the changing significance and implications of an enduring social problem.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

About the author (1998)

Zygmunt Bauman is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds. He is one of the foremost commentators on the postmodern condition, whose latest books include Postmodernity and its Discontents (1997) and The Globals and the Locals (1998).

Bibliographic information