Zombie Disciplines, Anticipatory Imagination and Mutually Assured Diversity in Postnormal Times

Liam Mayo, Shamim Miah

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In an interview with the Journal of Consumer Culture, the noted German sociologist Ulrich Beck reflected on the challenge of theorizing a society whose system of coordinates are changing significantly before its very eyes (Beck, 2002). Throughout his career Beck had repeatedly rejected, what he called, ‘zombie categories’ which he attributed to the sociological classics and claimed embodied aspects of experience were no longer relevant in the 21st century (Beck, 2002). Zombie categories, such as ‘social class’ or the ‘nation state,’ Beck contended, are merely kept alive today – artificially – by scholars (Gross, 2016). Going further, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Beck argued that state-based concepts of war, peace, friend, foe, enemy, crime and peace should also be rendered obsolete (Beck, 2003). With these, he built the general foundations for the assertion that sociology, as a discipline, should liberate itself from the intellectual blockages that it had inherited from the classical tradition. ‘How can one’ Beck queries, ‘make reasonable decisions about the future under such conditions of uncertainty?’ (Beck, 2002, p.263)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmerging Epistemologies
Subtitle of host publicationThe Changing Fabric of Knowledge in Postnormal Times
EditorsZiauddin Sardar
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781565640122
ISBN (Print)9781565646025 , 9781642056594
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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