Defamiliarising the Familiar: The Sociology of Zygmunt Bauman SOCIO4115

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course discusses the key concerns and themes emerging from the work of Zygmunt Bauman (1925-2017) was one of the most prominent sociologists of the late 20th/21st Century. Born in Poland - but who from 1971 to his death lived in exile in Leeds, England - Bauman produced an immense collection of work which, at last count (and including only texts published in English), stands at 56 books and over 150 articles. This course looks at some of the key concerns and themes emerging from Bauman's work.

Bauman famously spoke
of the role of sociology being 'to defamiliarise the familiar'; to make the conditions under which we all live our lives, the pressures we face and the obstacles in our way, something we become conscious of. We will explore how Bauman attempted to do this in relation to topics such as: (liquid) modernity, consumerism, morality, inequality in a global society, politics, an socialism. During this course we will also place Bauman in a wider sociological context. This includes not only his own life (as someone, in his own words, 'twice a refugee') but also how others have agreed, or disagreed, with his views.



Requirements of Entry

In order to take this course you need to have met the requirements for entry into our Honours Programme. This means achieving a grade of 'D' or better in Sociology 1A and 1B and a 'C' or better in Sociology 2A and 2B. You also have to comply with the College of Social Science regulations for progression to Honours.


One 3,000 word essay (70%) and one 1,000-1,500 word book review (30%). Support will be available in terms of an extra session and online resources for students to complete this book review.

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The overarching aim of this course is to introduce you to the sociology of Zygmunt Bauman, and the evaluations which have been offered of it. More specifically, the course aims to:

■ Investigate the basis of Bauman's sociology as emerging from structuration theory, hermeneutics and humanism

■ Examine particular areas of Bauman's sociological project including: modernity, morality, consumerism, politics and socialism

■ Introduce you to Bauman's critics and supporters

■ Suggest how Bauman may, or may not, provide a useful sociological perspective for understanding contemporary society

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Describe the key elements of Bauman's sociology

■  Apply his theoretical insights to demonstrate an ability to critically analyse contemporary society

■ Summarize and evaluate the key claims of Bauman's critics and supporters

■ Outline Bauman's thoughts in areas of sociological investigation including: modernity, morality, consumerism, politics and globalization

■ Critically evaluate the overall value of Bauman's sociological product

■ Defend OR critique the notion that Bauman is one of the most significant sociologists of the late 20th/early 21st Century

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.