This accessible and assured book offers readers a new take on the central question of the relation between the individual and society. It offers a thorough, informed and critical guide to the field. It demonstrates how global economic and employment structures, neo-liberal discourse, the role of emotion, irrationality, and ambiguity are factors that impact upon the shape and resilience of the self.

The Diminished Self

The diminished self

In our liquid modern times the world around us is sliced into poorly coordinated fragments while our individual lives are cut into a succession of ill-connected episodes.

(Zygmunt Bauman, 2004: 12–13)

That we are enduring a sustained period of psychosocial fragmentation is an assumption running through social theory like seaside lettering through a stick of rock. Its premise is one of the pillars of modern sociology, an abiding concern from the ‘classic’ approaches of Marx, Weber, Simmel, Tionnes and Durkheim, via the rise of critical theory to the contours of post-modern theory and its critical reception. This chapter will briefly survey a handful of these accounts, which are taken to be representative of this much broader tendency. Particular emphasis will be placed ...

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