According to Zygmunt Bauman in Liquid Modernity (2000), the formerly solid and stable institutions of social life that characterized earlier stages of modernity have become fluid. He sees this as an outcome of the modernist project of progress itself, which in seeking to dismantle oppressive structures failed to reconstruct new roles for society, community, and the individual. The un-tethering of social life from tradition in the latter stages of the twentieth century has produced unprecedented freedoms and unparalleled uncertainties, at least in the West. Although Bauman’s elaboration of some of the features and drivers of liquid modernity — increased mobility, rapid communications technologies, individualism — suggests it to be a neologism for globalization, it is arguably also the context which has allowed this phenomenon to flourish. The qualities of fluidity, leakage, and flow that distinguish uncontained liquids also characterize globalization, which encompasses a range of global trends and processes no longer confined to, or controlled by, the ‘container’ of the nation or state. The concept of liquid modernity helps to explain the conditions under which globalization discourses have found a purchase and, by extension, the world in which contemporary children’s literature, media, and culture are produced. Perhaps more significantly, it points to the fluid conceptions of self and other that inform the ‘liquid’ worldview of the current generation of consumers of texts for children and young adults. This generation is growing up under the phase of globalization we describe in this chapter.
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