Freedom and dependence
“Of course, neither total freedom nor total dependence are to be found anywhere in society. Both are imaginary poles between which real situations are plotted - and oscillate.” (Bauman 1993, 30) We believe we live in a ‘free’ society, where individualism is valued and dependency is avoided. Bauman attempts to examine exactly how ‘free’ we are as a society. Firstly Bauman believes there is no concept of freedom without there being dependency. Unless there are a group of people more dependent, therefore being underprivileged, a group of privileged people who have more freedom cannot exist. Otherwise there would be no ‘freedom’ since everyone is dependent and thus the same.
Although people today consider themselves to be free and believe they are making their own choices, according to Bauman all their choices art in fact socially constructed and are a product of other’s influence and opinion. This is due to humans’ constant need to seek approval. In order to further explain this, Bauman looks at ‘the big brother’ and ‘the weakest link’. In both these reality TV shows the behaviour of the contestant’s is analysed by the viewers and one by one contestants are eliminated until only one winner is left standing. The decision of the viewers is based on the contestants’ competency to perform to expected moral standards in order to gain the viewer’s approval. The person most proficient in this act is the ultimate winner.
This reflects the individual’s choices in life, which according to Bauman are ultimately based on our dependency upon ‘normative reference groups’ and ‘comparative reference groups’. ‘Normative reference groups’ are people close to the individual whose opinion really matter, and who the individual is afraid of hurting or disappointing such as family, friends, teachers and the community. The individual is careful in keeping their choices parallel to these people’s wishes thus narrowing down their choices and thus the bringing...
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