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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Wasted Lives by Zygmunt Bauman. Modernity and Its Outcasts by Zygmunt Bauman.

The production of ‘human waste’ – or more precisely, wasted lives, the ‘superfluous’ populations of migrants, refugees and otheroutcasts – is an inevitable outcome of modernization.

It is anunavoidable side-effect of economic progress and the quest fororder which is characteristic of modernity.

As long as large parts of the world remained wholly or partlyunaffected by moder The production of ‘human waste’ – or more precisely, wasted lives, the ‘superfluous’ populations of migrants, refugees and otheroutcasts – is an inevitable outcome of baukan. As long as large parts of the world remained wholly or partlyunaffected by modernization, they were treated by modernizingsocieties as lands that were able to absorb the excess ofpopulation abuman the ‘developed countries’.

Global solutions weresought, and temporarily found, to locally produced overpopulationproblems. But as modernization has reached the furthest lands ofthe planet, ‘redundant population’ is produced everywhere and alllocalities have to bear the consequences of modernity’s globaltriumph. They are now confronted with the need to seek – in vain, it seems – local solutions to globally produced problems.

Theglobal spread of the modernity has given rise to growing quantitiesof human beings who are deprived of adequate means of survival, butthe planet is fast running out of places to put them.

Hence the newanxieties about ‘immigrants’ and ‘asylum seekers’ and the growingrole played by diffuse ‘security fears’ on the contemporarypolitical agenda. With characteristic brilliance, this new book by Zygmunt Baumanunravels the impact of this transformation on our contemporaryculture and politics and shows that the problem of coping with’human waste’ provides a key for understanding some otherwisebaffling features of our shared life, from the strategies of globaldomination to the most intimate aspects of human relationships.


Published December 30th by Polity Press first published January 7th To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Wasted Livesplease sign up. Can someone be kind enough to share the Book with me pls?

See 1 question about Wasted Lives…. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Sep 02, Trevor rated it it was amazing Shelves: But this shows what comes from someone really thinking through an idea in all its manifestations. It is fundamentally that which is not needed, but that is necessary in producing things that are necessary.


The problem now is that the world is full. Terra Nullus no longer exists. But our societies continue to produce wasted humans — in fact, at an increasing rate. They can not be recycled, re-employed — they are literal waste. Once our society could be considered comparable to a farm. Life had cycles and there was a sense of progress within these cycles. You plant a seed and you harvest many seeds. You raise a sheep and it produces many sheep.

But Capitalism is better compared to a mine than to a farm. Value is extracted and once extracted it is gone forever. In the process of extracting that value it is inevitable that there will be waste. Slag and environmental destruction seem inevitable consequences of mining.

To get at the bit you need you must separate it from the waste and rubbish. There is no cycle and there is no commitment to an ongoing relationship – these is just extraction and making off with the goods.

Scarrto as with mining, so with Capitalism. There is a fascinating part of this book where he discusses Enron. Such is the grinding necessity of averages. Utter dedication was required, but with about one in every six employees disappearing due to under-performance every year and nearly half being negatively baiman, only Dr Pangloss would feel optimistic of a scafto term future with the company.

That is, the company might expect hard work from its employees out of fearbut loyalty and vtie would probably match that shown to the employees by the company. We truly are the waste society.

Change is the only absolute — and change is constant and increasingly meaningless. Change is now its own justification. Once I attended a meeting in my role as a union organiser where a manager was explaining a new organisational structure. He said that if staff were unhappy with the structure they should just wait, as it was inevitable that there would be a new one in a year or so.

Wasted Lives: Modernity and Its Outcasts

You may think he was being cynical or perhaps even ironic — but he was perfectly serious. There is no optimum arrangement, just different arrangements and change is the only good. Bauman relates this to art too.

There was a time when artists sought perfection too. If I paint a picture it gets put in a frame and sold to the highest bidder. If I stage an event, that is much more difficult to turn into a commodity. Where I found this most interesting and most challenging was around the notion of the infinite.

There is no exclusion in the infinite — the infinite includes all. He discusses the notion of an infinite God and how the Biblical God required His followers to fully submit to His will to gain His favour. But what is particularly interesting here is that Bauman talks of this as people submitting to God as a means of overcoming their fear of the infinite — the uncaring infinity against which we are nothing. But even this God becomes what it sought to replace.

Rather than an uncaring universe, we are left with the book of Job — once again we are left with the inscrutable will of God and us merely His playthings.

Surely, they must be worth more to him in his creation than we are? Oh, by the way, I am not really interested in answers to these questions — that would be like you supplying me with answers to why Harry Potter should have had dark hair. Whatever interest your speculations may have would be of interest to you alone, I suspect.


We are all tormented by the threat of our becoming waste. All of us know that it is far too easy for us to be defined as waste and as redundant.

And we all know the consequences of such a designation. But we ignore the consequences that are already playing out in terms of mental illness and general fear.

Elena (Vicenza, 20, Italy)’s review of Vite di scarto

As if more than twenty centuries of history had not been enough to prove the opposite is virtually always the case. That we accept that Afghanistan is both over-run with people worse than Hitler and a safe place to return refugees to, shows the depth of our rationalisations and self-interested selective memory.

This is a remarkably d and clearly written book. This holds no punches. It is clear in ways few sociologists are clear. And it is challenging in ways that will have me thinking about the implication of some of what he has to hauman for many weeks and months to come.

Sccarto book offers no real solutions — but for holding up a mirror in which we can see ourselves vige back, it provides us with a service I suspect too few of us will be grateful for. The alternative is to just look away — but that alternative is becoming daily more difficult. View all 7 comments. Mar 26, Eric Aguirre rated it it was amazing.

El mundo moderno esta produciendo una cantidad alarmante de desperdicios humanos. Jun 01, Dan rated it liked it Recommends it for: It continues unpacking ideas he expressed in Liquid Fear, and his other books. Mainly the futility of seeking local solutions to global, systemic problems. He adds the idea that modernity by definition involves an attempt to improve society through design.

Designs always involve waste, and thus any ‘designed society’ will involve wasted lives. Jan 04, Brant rated it liked it. Uncovers how our modern progressive world sees the poor and marginalized of our societies.

Just like trash, we discard those who we perceive won’t benefit our lives. Case in point, the many slums built on top of the garbage heaps here in Manila, where so many people scrounge for anything to live on.

Unfortunetaly, now the rich sift through the garbage for anything valuable before it even makes it to the slums. Nice and thought provoking, but the two central chapters seemed too repetitive to me. Very nice introduction, I liked the references to Calvino, and very nice scatro, comparing museums to graveyards and giving an insight on the consumism on our personal relationships. I would recommend it after all. Aug 25, Marek Mackiewicz rated it it was amazing.

Hands down the most clearly written academic book that I’ve read as yet.