Liquid Modernity? Exploring Bauman in Context

Miss Jordan Anderson1

1Victoria University Of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Zygmunt Bauman’s ‘Liquid Modernity’ argued that modern society has ushered in numerous possibilities but also a host of dangers.  The transition from ‘solid’ to ‘liquid’ modernity brought an end to the stability and order of post-war society and set risk free, creating boundless opportunity as well as significant existential insecurity. This paper tests Bauman’s thesis, applying it to the context of the modern New Zealand community. Of the advanced liberal democracies, New Zealand implemented neoliberal economic and political reforms with the most fervour and haste, delegating risk and responsibility to the individual and bringing an end to the certainty and predictability of post-war community life. Drawing from qualitative case studies of three communities that were required to home high-risk sex offenders on release, the paper explores whether Bauman’s thesis is reflected in the experiences of individuals who are managing risks and rewards in their everyday lives. The especially strong influence of social class on individuals’ reactions to risks will be discussed, along with the high levels of solidarity and resilience particular communities have shown when faced with uncertainty.


Jordan is currently undertaking her PhD in Criminology at the Institute of Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research focusses on risk and dangerousness in modern society, with particular attention to post-sentence regulation of sex offenders in New Zealand. Jordan’s research interests include punishment and offender regulation, sentencing, and youth justice.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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