Some of the essays explore existing research and theory about cosmopolitanism and apply it to specific case studies; others attempt to extend this theoretical framework and engage in a dialogue with the broader disciplines of media and cultural studies. Overall, this variety of approaches generates valuable insights into the central issue of the book: the role played by the media, in its various forms, in either encouraging or discouraging cosmopolitanist identifications among its audiences.
In an article about the role of cosmopolitanism in the modern social imaginary, Craig Calhoun (2008b) discusses how being a ‘cosmopolitan’ has become more and more desirable among an urban, upwardly mobile, social group. In popular culture, he points out, cosmopolitanism has become a label that indicates a way of life, an openness to the world, being a citizen of the world, transcending the national, having the taste and capacity to appreciate the diversity of cuisines, cultural products and touristic locations we encounter on a daily basis in modern society. Among his various examples, one is particularly amusing: in the unday Times of India, ‘cosmopolitan’ apparently is the first category in the advertisements posted by would-be husbands seeking brides (and vice versa).
While gaining currency on matchmaking sites is often not a reliable indicator for the popularity of a concept in academic research, it is evident that for the past two decades there has been an accelerated interest in cosmopolitanism among academics. Beyond its pop cultural evocations of openness, the concept has now been debated and interpreted by writers from various disciplines and fields in social sciences, ranging from law to political science, from anthropology to philosophy, making the concept not only popular but also very hard to define (see Pollock et al. 2002). Even within the same field, say in political science, positions vary as much as the definitions.
It is not our aim to review the extensive literature on cosmopolitanism, nor clarify...
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