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Current Sociology: Emancipatory Catastrophism, Climate Change and Risk Society

This special section in Current Sociology features Ulrich Beck’s article ‘Emancipatory catastrophism: What does it mean to climate change and risk society’ and a discussion of it by six authors.

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Security Policy and (Global) Risk(s)

This paper introduces and discusses the two different approaches to ‘risk’ within the practice and study of security: the ‘modern’ idea of risk, and Beck’s concept of ‘global risk’ and its implied imperative to rethink modern security institutions.

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Recent workshop: In Search of Cosmopolitan Data

This international workshop aimed at starting a conversation about ‘cosmopolitan data’ across the boundaries of social science disciplines. Are there distinct cosmopolitan data? And, if so, how do they look and how are they to be generated?

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The Coal Renaissance and Cosmopolitized Low-Carbon Societies

Current efforts at ‘low-carbon transition’ are marked by a striking paradox: the ‘phenomenal’ and ‘historically incredible’ resurgence of coal.

Research Fields

From Publications

Cosmopolitan Nation: Re-imagining Collectivity in the World Risk Society

The concept of the national is often perceived as the central obstacle for the realization of cosmopolitan orientations. Consequently, debates about the nation tend to revolve around its persistence or its demise. This article departs from this either-or perspective by investigating the formation of the ‘cosmopolitan nation’ as a facet of world risk society.

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From Publications

Greening cosmopolitan urbanism?

This paper engages key social theories of transnational mobilities in order to forge the concept of urban ‘green’ cosmopolitization, posited as a social scientific contribution to epochal conversations on climate change. Bringing Ulrich Beck’s notion of ‘cosmopolitization’ to bear on recent work around ‘urban policy mobilities’, professional planning practices in large-scale world cities as privileged sites for contemporary imaginings and material implementations of low-carbon sociotechnical change are analysed.

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From Publications

Cosmopolitan communities of climate risk

Mitigating human-induced climate change calls for a globalized change of consciousness and practice. It also demand a double transformation of the social sciences – first, from ‘methodological nationalism’ to ‘methodological cosmopolitanism’ and, second, an empirical reorientation towards ‘cosmopolitization’ as the social force of emerging cosmopolitan realities.

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Living in and coping with world risk society


Cosmopolitan Research

ERC Advanced Grant Project
Principle Investigator: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Beck

Climate change, framed in social scientific terms, offers a causal and moral narrative which connects, for example, users of electric toothbrushes in the USA and couples quarrelling about habits of consumption in Europe and Japan, with representatives disputing about a post-Kyoto agreement at global climate conferences, all the way to victims of flooding and draught events in Australia, China, India and Bangladesh. Even climate sceptics react to and thereby affirm the dominance of such a climate narrative. This coercive inclusion of the excluded ‘distant other’ is what I define as the social scientific fact of ‘cosmopolitization’ – in distinction from ‘cosmopolitanism’ as a philosophical norm.

By taking climate change as a comprehensive case study experiment, this research project aims at reinventing the social sciences for the ‘age of cosmopolitization’. The ground-breaking nature of the project is to advance the present state of debate by validating the new theoretical, methodological and empirical tools needed for such a ‘cosmopolitan turn’.

Working iteratively between theoretical reflection and empirical investigation, this approach promises to generate new knowledge on a pressing real-world problem (i.e. climate change), while at the same time elaborating and testing a model renewing the social sciences for the ‘age of cosmopolitization’.

This project is funded through an Advanced Grant by the European Research Council (ERC). Grant holder is Professor Ulrich Beck. The project is based at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany.

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Latest Publications

Current Sociology: Emancipatory Catastrophism, Climate Change and Risk Society

Selchow, Sabine (2014) ‘Security Policy and (Global) Risk(s)’ in: Kaldor, Mary and Iavor Rangelov (eds). The Handbook of Global Security Policy. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 68-84.

Beck, U., Blok, A., Tyfield, D., & Zhang, J. Y. (2013). Cosmopolitan communities of climate risk: Conceptual and empirical suggestions for a new research agenda. Global Networks, 13(1), 1-21.

Ulrich Beck, Risk, class, crisis, hazards and cosmopolitan solidarity/risk community – conceptual and methodological clarifications, FMSH-WP-2013-31, april 2013


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Methodological Cosmopolitanism

In the Laboratory of Climate Change

Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität München Institute für Soziologie European Research Council