The ambivalence of ordinary cosmopolitanism: investigating the limits of cosmopolitan openness

Skrbis, Zlatko and Woodward, Ian (2007) The ambivalence of ordinary cosmopolitanism: investigating the limits of cosmopolitan openness. Sociological Review, 55 4: 730-747. doi:10.1111/j.1467-954X.2007.00750.x

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Author Skrbis, Zlatko
Woodward, Ian
Title The ambivalence of ordinary cosmopolitanism: investigating the limits of cosmopolitan openness
Journal name Sociological Review   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0038-0261
Publication date 2007-01-01
Year available 2007
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2007.00750.x
Open Access Status
Volume 55
Issue 4
Start page 730
End page 747
Total pages 18
Editor N. Charles
C. Munro
Place of publication Oxford
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Subject C1
370101 Social Theory
759900 Other Social Development and Community Services
Abstract Despite diverse understandings of cosmopolitanism, most authors agree that cosmopolitans espouse a broadly defined disposition of 'openness' toward others, people, things and experiences whose origin is non-local. It is argued that such an attitude is expressed by an emotional and ethical commitment towards universalism, selflessness, worldliness and communitarianism, and that such values should be identifiable in the practices, attitudes and identifications of individuals. By using data generated through qualitative focus group research, this paper extends the development of Lamont and Aksartova's (2002) category of 'ordinary cosmopolitanism'. The participants in this study saw themselves as beneficiaries of an increasingly interconnected world, and they generally expressed cosmopolitan sentiments by referring to easily accepted opportunities associated with globalisation (eg. travel, cuisine, music) rather than the more difficult aspects of openness such as showing hospitality to strangers, or accepting human interest ahead of perceived national interests. Their positive views were counterbalanced, however, by sentiments of 'dilution of national culture' and 'culture loss'. We argue that cosmopolitanism is a set of structurally grounded, discursive resources available to social actors which is variably deployed to deal with issues like cultural diversity, the global, and otherness. Ironically these discourses, which are the basis of the everyday accounts we describe, mirror academic debates on globalisation, suggesting the immersion of theorists in these discursive webs of meaning that structure responses to things global.
Keyword Sociology
Q-Index Code C1

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Created: Wed, 02 Apr 2008, 21:47:50 EST by Karen Hargreave on behalf of School of Social Science