Zygmunt Bauman on Brainwashing

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“We are tightly wrapped in a spider net of electronic surveillance”… deliberately confused by “an incessant flow of dismembered and dislocated fragments” (Zygmunt Bauman on brainwashing, surveillance, and modern society).*

In July 2015 Daniel Pick interviewed Zygmunt Bauman on the subject of brainwashing. His wide ranging responses travel from the Cold War to the virtual reality of everyday life in the present. In this key section of the interview Zygmunt Bauman remembers the first time he heard the term ‘brainwashing’, considers how it was used by both sides in the Cold War, highlights its continuing application in modern social systems, and insists upon its ongoing relevance as a concept.

Zygmunt Bauman was born in Poland in 1925 and has lived in England since 1971. He is one of the world’s best-known and most influential sociologists and has published more than fifty books. Amongst his most widely discussed works are Modernity and the Holocaust [1989] and Liquid Modernity [2000].

Those watching the present interview may also be interested to read his recent post on security and the anxieties surrounding the Paris bombings: Floating Insecurity.


The interview was filmed at Zygmunt Bauman’s house in Leeds, by Bartek Dziadosz and edited by Ian Magor.

* From correspondence with Daniel Pick, 3rd April 2015.