The coincidence of the passing of the great European sociologist Zygmunt Bauman with the British decision on Brexit, the American election to president of Donald Trump, the rise of fake news, and the normalization of what would have previously been extremist political views raises profound ethical questions and political challenges for not only Bauman’s home discipline, sociology, but also the wider humanities and social sciences.

Although Bauman was a sociologist, he was not a social scientist in the Durkheimian mold of those who want to prove causal relationships between variables in the name of establishing social facts. Against the antihumanism of so much contemporary sociology, which has been able to uncritically serve the interests of the state because it considers ethical norms distortions of its value-free methodological mission, Bauman wrote through what C. Wright Mills ([1959] 2000) called the sociological imagination. In Thinking Sociologically...

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