I have recently beome more involved in reading Zygmunt Bauman and discussing his ideas, particularly with respect to the contribution of sociology to understanding contemporay society and what a leftist agenda and programme might be – the practical contribution of his sociology. This is in addition to returning more explicitly and systematicall to a marxist account of capitalism and the current finacial crisis and a renewd discussion with my colleague, Richard Kilminster, on Norbert Elias’s theories. Which of these three, Bauman, Elias or Marxs, gives us the best understanding of our prblems – social, economic and political – and the best basis for developing political and personal strategies ? It seems to me that there is no simple answer and in any case it may be a mistake to assume any one social thinker is sufficient. This is my current position – Bauman for his continued belief in the values of socialism and his coherent account of how sociology should still be politically engaged, Elais for theoretical and conceptual rigour, and Marx for his diagnosis of capitalism.