The Polish-born sociologist is skeptical about the possibilities for political change
Zygmunt Bauman has just celebrated his 90 birthday and taken two flights from his home in the northern British city of Leeds to get to an event in Burgos, northern Spain. He admits to being tired as we begin the interview, but he still manages to express his ideas calmly and clearly, taking his time with each response because he hates giving simple answers to complex questions. Since developing his theory of liquid modernity in the late 1990s – which describes our age as one in which “all agreements are temporary, fleeting, and valid only until further notice” – he has become a leading figure in the field of sociology. His work on inequality and his critique of what he sees as the failure of politics to meet people’s expectations, along with a highly pessimistic view of the future of society, have been picked up by the so-called May 15 “Indignant” movement in Spain – although he has repeatedly highlighted its weaknesses.