SoSe 13: The Political Sociology of Cosmopolitanism and Communitarianism
Pieter De Wilde, Celine Teney, Onawa Promise Lacewell
Across many advanced democracies - albeit to varying extents and in different forms - we observe a growing distance between the positions taken by political elites, and those of mass publics and ... read more
Across many advanced democracies - albeit to varying extents and in different forms - we observe a growing distance between the positions taken by political elites, and those of mass publics and electorates. This elite-mass divide has crystallized in a limited number of issue areas, which are often related to globalization and denationalization, in their political, socio-cultural, and economic forms. It shows that the denationalization of markets, governance structures, and migration flows entails not only an aggregate growth in opportunities and wealth, but also a reconfiguration of power, wealth, and status between different classes of actors within national political systems as well as between supranational and national institutions. Moreover, these two processes interact with each other; transnational and supranational arenas open up opportunities and make resources available for some actors, but not - or not to the same extent - for others.
In the national political arena, these processes led to tensions in many countries reflected in the rise of populist movements and parties on the left and right. On the international level, international institutions are not any more seen as just functional agencies to foster coordination between governments, but increasingly as sites of political authority and arenas of political contestation. These conflicts that follow a similar logic have drawn increasing attention from political scientists. Some of them even speak about the rise of a new political cleavage. Accordingly, this new cleavage divides actors -being individuals, groups such as political parties or international actors- along a cosmopolitan versus communitarian line. Broadly speaking, the cosmopolitan pole represents positions in favour of further denationalization and the opening of borders whereas the communitarian pole refers to stances related to the importance of the own community and the necessity to keep borders closed.
The proposed master seminar intends to shed light on this debate by exposing seminar participants to three main topics within this exciting and current research area. The session begins with an examination of the normative theory of cosmopolitanism and communitarianism. Within the context of this theoretical framework participants are asked to think about the commonality and difference in problem definition and proposed solutions between cosmopolitanism and communitarianism as opposing philosophies. The next four sessions address the political sociology of cosmopolitanism and communitarianism. During these sessions students are asked to reflect on how the normative theoretical debate surrounding cosmopolitanism and communitarianism is mirrored in society, and if so, where and how. Finally, the last four sessions explore whether the rise of cosmopolitanism and communitarianism constitutes a new societal cleavage. The readings accompanying these sessions present students with empirical evidence examining this new cleavage from the perspectives of voters, political parties, and international actors. In addition, this seminar will also discuss the relevance of this in non-Western European contexts by drawing on readings that focus on cosmopolitanism and communitarianism in North American and Latin American cases.