Bauman is doing great work on consumerism and the breakdown of social institutions and their replacements.
The nature of a consuming society (as opposed to our cultural language based on a production society) is not well understood. It has profound implications for self-identity and social relationships.
Here’s my translation of Bauman’s idea (I hope I got most of it right) in his book Consuming Life:
In a mass-producing society, institutions tend to be large. You belonged to large groups that bestowed automatic identity.
Increases in productivity meant smaller institutions and fewer individuals belonging to large social institutions. Individuals were left to socially and psychology fend for themselves (incidentally leading people to the need to brand themselves). Without overarching, permanent themes in society, social relationships are tentative and brief and identities are driven by the latest consumer good.
This is because modern communities are underlain by consumer goods.
Modern communities tend to be created by consumer technology (social media is an example), thereby rendering your participation in the modern world a function of economics (your ability to buy the technology). Those who will not or cannot participate will be left behind.
Check it out!