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Meeting the Challenge of Cultural Diversity in Europe

Moving Beyond the Crisis

Robin Wilson

Europe has talked itself into a refugee and security crisis. There is, however, a misrecognition of the real challenge facing Europe: the challenge of managing the relationship between Europeans and the currently stigmatized ‘others’ which it has attracted. Making the case against a ‘Europe of walls’, Robin Wilson instead proposes a refounding of Europe built on the power of diversity and an ethos of hospitality rather than an institutional thicket serving the market.
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Chapter 8: Cosmopolitanism: the class consciousness of frequent flyers?

Robin Wilson


Every paradigm requires theory-building and interculturalism can draw on the burgeoning work on cosmopolitanism across the social sciences. Cosmopolitanism goes back to the ancient Stoics and Kant but in modern times has been associated particularly with the work of Ulrich Beck. For Beck, the processes of globalization and individualization demand a self-evaluative disposition which is inclusive of the other. But they also engender what he called ‘really-existing cosmopolitanization’: far from being rootless and elitist, this ethic thus operates at all levels down to the street. It is fostered by the trust-based Nordic welfare states, which have proved even more distinctive in recent years. Cosmopolitanism also chimes with the ‘deliberative turn’ in thinking on democracy—where Self and Other engage in serious deliberative exchanges—and offers an alternative to authoritarian populism at a time when support for democracy is weakening.

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