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.
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.
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.
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.Read more »