Get access

The cosmopolitan imagination: critical cosmopolitanism and social theory

Authors


email: g.delanty@liverpool.ac.uk

Abstract

Critical cosmopolitanism is an emerging direction in social theory and reflects both an object of study and a distinctive methodological approach to the social world. It differs from normative political and moral accounts of cosmopolitanism as world polity or universalistic culture in its conception of cosmopolitanism as socially situated and as part of the self-constituting nature of the social world itself. It is an approach that shifts the emphasis to internal developmental processes within the social world rather than seeing globalization as the primary mechanism. This signals a post-universalistic kind of cosmopolitanism, which is not merely a condition of diversity but is articulated in cultural models of world openness through which societies undergo transformation. The cosmopolitan imagination is articulated in framing processes and cultural models by which the social world is constituted; it is therefore not reducible to concrete identities, but should be understood as a form of cultural contestation in which the logic of translation plays a central role. The cosmopolitan imagination can arise in any kind of society and at any time but it is integral to modernity, in so far as this is a condition of self-problematization, incompleteness and the awareness that certainty can never be established once and for all. As a methodologically grounded approach, critical cosmopolitan sociology has a very specific task: to discern or make sense of social transformation by identifying new or emergent social realities.

Ancillary