This is the first post  of Zygmunt Bauman’s post series based on Zygmunt Bauman’s interview in London, the 25th of June of 2011 by Fronteiras do Pensamiento as well as other resources.

The process of Fragmentation of human life: a project for life vs. a life split in episodes

What happens in the 20th century is that we transit from an era of producers to one of consumers ; on the other hand you have the process of fragmentation of human life.

When I was young, ages ago, we were impressed by Jean Paul Sartre who told us that we had to create “projet de la vie” , a project for life, and once we selected a project for life we had to go step by step, consistently for one year to another closer and closer to this ideal.

Now, tell that to current youngsters and they will laugh at you. We are in great difficulty to guess what will happen to us next year, a project for life is something unrealistic. Life is split into episodes, it was not like that at the beginning of 20th century”



“Society has been individualized and instead of thinking in communities to which you belong, a nation to which you belong or political movements to which you belong…people tend to redefine the meaning of life, the purpose of life, the happiness in life to what happens to him/herself. The question of identity has become tremendously important nowadays in the world, you have to create your identity, you don’t inherit it. You not only make it from scratch, but you have to spend your life, in fact, redefining your identity because styles of life, what it’s considered good or bad for you, the attractive, tempting forms of life… change many times in your life”

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Fuente: Own elaboration by using picture from eldiario.es

“If I try to list all fashions which changed in the 86 years of my life, we will probably would have to spend several hours just to name them all. There are plenty of changes… not only from totalitarianism to democracy but so many other things. I’m afraid we cannot say with our heart which of these changes are the lasting ones that will influence the life of next generation of our grandchildren, great grandchildren.”

In December 2010 I had the opportunity to attend Bauman’s conference in Facultad de Ciencias Políticas y Sociología at Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He also talked about “redefining identity” at work. “You have to repeat again and again the validation of your state in employment. You are as good as your last success but this one won’t last long and you will have to repeat it again and again”.

This continuous redefining of identity (identity work is called by experts) once again, can get into weariness and fatigue impacting our health (as Alain Ehrenberg explains in his book “The Weariness of the Self”), but this would already be a topic for another post.

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