Cosmopolitanism in a Mediatized World The Social Stratification of Global Orientations

University dissertation from Karlstad : Karlstads universitet

Abstract: The contemporary media landscape invites us to experience a belonging to various distant places, mourn the victims of faraway disasters, expose ourselves to foreign cultures and engage in political issues in places far from our local context of living. In other words, we are invited to become citizens of the world – cosmopolitans. But are we? And if so, how is such cosmopolitanism expressed in a given society, under what social conditions, and in relation to what media practices?Contemporary social theory depicts a global or cosmopolitan mode of orienting in the world as paradigmatic of social life in global modernity. To date, little is known about the structural realities of such orientations. Against this backdrop, the aim of the present study is to understand the potentially “cosmopolitan” character of peoples’ outlooks and practices, and the societal conditions in which they can be identified. On the one hand, the aim of the study is to contribute to the largely theoretical accounts of the “cosmopolitan” character of social life in present times, andon the other, to understand the specific role of various media practices in the process generally described as “cosmopolitanization”.Results yielded by a national survey deployed in Sweden (n = 1 025) show that the distribution of various cosmopolitan dispositions abides by logics of social stratification. In tandem with previous research, cosmopolitanism – when studied “from below” – has a tendency to emerge in more privileged spheres of society. Being “connected” and simply living in a potentially global media landscape does not nullify this pattern. Contrary to significant parts of popular and scholarly conviction, the media is no uniform, all-encompassing environment operating as a force of cosmopolitanization across all social strata. The results of this study point towards a “mediatized cosmopolitanism” that is impossible to disentangle from social context and the power dynamics pertaining to that context.