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Keywords:

  • Beck;
  • cosmopolitanism;
  • nationalism;
  • reflexive modernization;
  • globalization

Abstract

The work of Ulrich Beck has been important in bringing sociological attention to the ways issues of risk are embedded in contemporary globalization, in developing a theory of ‘reflexive modernization’, and in calling for social science to transcend ‘methodological nationalism’. In recent studies, he and his colleagues help to correct for the Western bias of many accounts of cosmopolitanism and reflexive modernization, and seek to distinguish normative goals from empirical analysis. In this paper I argue that further clarification of this latter distinction is needed but hard to reach within a framework that still embeds the normative account in the idea that empirical change has a clear direction. Similar issues beset the presentation of diverse patterns in recent history as all variants of ‘second modernity’. Lastly, I note that ironically, given the declared ‘methodological cosmopolitanism’ of the authors, the empirical studies here all focus on national cases.