Making the Familiar UnfamiliarA Conversation with Peter Haffner
Making the Familiar Unfamiliar
A Conversation with Peter Haffner
Translated by Daniel Steuer
Shortly before his death, Zygmunt Bauman spent several days in conversation with the Swiss journalist Peter Haffner. Out of these conversations emerged this book in which Bauman shows himself to be the pre-eminent social thinker for which he became world renowned, a thinker who never shied away from addressing the great issues of our time and always strove to interrogate received wisdom and common sense, to make the familiar unfamiliar. 

As in Bauman’s work more generally, the personal and the political are interwoven in this book. Bauman’s life, which followed the same trajectory as the social and political upheavals of the 20th century, left its trace on his thought. Bauman describes his upbringing in Poland, military service in the Red Army, working for the Polish Secret Service after the war and expulsion from Poland in 1968, providing personal accounts of the historical events on which he brings his social and political insights to bear. His reflections on history, identity, Jewishness, morality, happiness and love are rooted in his own personal journey through the turbulent events of the 20th century to which he bore witness. 

These last conversations shed new light on one of the greatest social thinkers of our time, offering a more personal perspective on a man who changed our way of thinking about the modern world.
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  • November 2020 (hb)
    October 2020 (pb)
  • 186 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $22.95
  • 9781509542307
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  • 9781509542314
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  • 9781509542321
Table of Contents
Editorial Note
Love and Gender
Choosing a partner: Why we are losing the capacity to love
Experience and Remembrance
Fate: How we make the history that makes us
Jewishness and Ambivalence
Adaptation: Why were Jews attracted to communism?
Intellect and Commitment
Sociology: Why it should not separate objective from personal experience
Power and Identity
Modernity: On the compulsion to be no one, or become someone else
Society and Responsibility
Solidarity: Why everyone becomes everyone else’s enemy
Religion and Fundamentalism
The end of the world: Why it is important to believe in (a non-existent) God
Utopia and History
Time travel: Where is ‘the beyond’ today?
Present and Future
Human waste: Who are the witches of modern society?
Happiness and Morality
The good life: What does it mean to take off shoes that are too tight?
Select Bibliography
About the Author
Zygmunt Bauman (1925-2017) was Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Leeds.
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