The Meaning of Education According to Zygmunt Bauman

In our new modern world, the lifelong learning process has been replaced and thrown out for an education that's disposable. Today, we'll talk about the meaning of education according to Zygmunt Bauman.
The Meaning of Education According to Zygmunt Bauman

Last update: 20 August, 2020

Over the last decades, a new tendency has been gaining strength, a tendency to value and consider education as a product rather than a process. According to Zygmunt Bauman, this occurs due to society’s impatience and liquid modernityIn other words, a world where the brief enjoyment of things has become the principal need.

Zygmunt Bauman: Education in times of liquid modernity

Zygmunt Bauman was a Polish sociologist and philosopher that focused his career on different social issues. These included modernity, globalization, and, in essence, different associated problems.

Zygmunt Bauman is highly recognized to this day for a number of different contributions. Among those, is the concept that he created and coined as liquid modernity.

The Meaning of Education According to Zygmunt Bauman

Liquid or fluid modernity refers to the constant changing of societies. It refers to the inconsistency and instability at every level of the life of a community where the collective nature and sense of belonging are in the background. And, on the forefront, is individuality.

Currently, people live in the moment and run away from anything that requires a long period of time to obtain. We escape from anything that we’re not completely sure we can achieve. In other words, we seek out short-term plans and surefire success.

At the same time, the knowledge from a formal educational system is no longer attractive to people of liquid modernity. Just as we observe in every other context, and as Bauman points out, the recipe for success that modern times demand is to be one’s self, not like everyone else.

In this sense, there’s a tendency to run from the formal education of schools and universities. And the reason we do this is to avoid an education that supposedly teaches similitude. Men and women of modernity aspire to awaken their own virtues and knowledge outside of the formation educational system.

“We must learn the art of living in a world that’s oversaturated with information. And we must also learn the even more difficult art of preparing the next generations for life in such a world.”

– Zygmunt Bauman –

The Meaning of Education According to Zygmunt Bauman

The purpose of education

In a society where lifelong knowledge and wisdom have lost their usefulness and meaning, we now conceptualize the value of learning as a product. It’s something that we take from in order to know how to do and know how to live… But not just to know.

In the face of this situation, Bauman dismisses disposable education and advocates for permanent education. In other words, constant, continuous, lifelong learning. What’s more, this philosopher expresses the importance of educating students in the desire to learn… The more I know, the more I want to know.

Education and Zygmunt Bauman

Finally, the sociologist delegates this responsibility to educational professionals, teachers. At the same time, he expresses that the purpose of education should be aimed at the construction of a new citizenship, far from economistic influences.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bauman, Z. (2002). Modernidad Líquida. S.L. Fondo de Cultura Económica de España. Madrid: España.
  • Bauman, Z. (2009). Los retos de la educación en la modernidad líquida. Gedisa. Madrid: España.

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