State of Crisis

Book Title State of Crisis
Author Name Zygmunt Bauman, Carlo Bordoni
Publishing house Polity
Country – city USA
Date of issue 2014
Number of pages 180

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Today we hear much talk of crisis and comparisons are often made with the Great Depression of the 1930s, but there is a crucial difference that sets our current malaise apart from the 1930s: today we no longer trust in the capacity of the state to resolve the crisis and to chart a new way forward. In our increasingly globalized world, stateshave been stripped of much of their power to shape the course of events. Many of ourproblems are globally produced but the volume of power at the disposal of individualnation-states is simply not sufficient to cope with the problems they face. This divorcebetween power and politics produces a new kind of paralysis. It undermines thepolitical agency that is needed to tackle the crisis and it saps citizens’ belief thatgovernments can deliver on their promises. The impotence of governments goes handin hand with the growing cynicism and distrust of citizens. Hence the current crisis is atonce a crisis of agency, a crisis of representative democracy and a crisis of thesovereignty of the state.

In this book the world-renowned sociologist Zygmunt Bauman and fellow traveller CarloBordoni explore the social and political dimensions of the current crisis. While thiscrisis has been greatly exacerbated by the turmoil following the financial crisis of 2007-8, Bauman and Bordoni argue that the crisis facing Western societies is rooted in amuch more profound series of transformations that stretch back further in time and areproducing long-lasting effects.

This highly original analysis of our current predicament by two of the world’s leadingsocial thinkers will be of interest to a wide readership.

This post is also available in: العربية (Arabic)