We need to talk about cosmopolitanism: The challenge of studying openness towards other people

Michael Skey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


The cosmopolitan has re-emerged as a popular figure within the social sciences, primarily as a means of addressing (the potential for) new forms of experience and sociability in an increasingly mobile and interconnected world. Investigations into practical or everyday cosmopolitanism have been useful in grounding some of the more theoretical of these debates but problems remain in terms of both defining and operationalizing the concept. The first section of the paper briefly addresses some key theoretical debates. In the second section, attention is focused on methodological issues, with regard to both data collection and interpretation. In particular, I suggest a move beyond labelling people and practices as cosmopolitan and, instead, emphasize the contradictory and rhetorical aspects of these engagements, drawing on empirical data. In this way, the temporal, conditional and often fragile aspects of such 'cosmopolitan' practices can be foregrounded.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-487
Number of pages17
JournalCultural Sociology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • banal cosmopolitanism
  • cosmopolitan
  • cosmopolitanism
  • cosmopolitanisms
  • cosmopolitans
  • ideological dilemmas
  • methological
  • methodology
  • ordinary cosmopolitanisms
  • practice
  • research methods

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