Cultural Citizenship: Cosmopolitan Questions

Cultural Citizenship: Cosmopolitan Questions

Cultural Citizenship: Cosmopolitan Questions

Cultural Citizenship: Cosmopolitan Questions


impressive in its coverage of contemporary and classical social and political theories of citizenship. Stevenson's summaries are instructive and thorough, and his interpretations perspicacious and relevant. Southern Review

• Why has 'culture' become central to political debates?

• How might we rethink questions of citizenship in an information age?

• Will cosmopolitanism become the key ideal of the future?

This readable and accessible guide links questions of identity, individualization, multiculturalism, and mediation to a politics of culture. This book draws from debates in political theory, cultural studies and sociology, and focuses on issues such as:

The reshaping of citizenship by globalization
New social movements
The decline of the nation- state
The impact of popular culture

Stevenson argues that questions of cosmopolitanism are increasingly likely to emerge within these contexts. Whether we are discussing the destruction of the environment, issues of cultural policy, the city or consumer culture these questions can all be linked to cosmopolitan dimensions. Issues of rights, obligations and cultural respect are now all central to the way in which we conceive our common world. This original book asks us to rethink the kinds of politics and personhood that are suitable for an information age.


‘Citizenship,’ in the words of Martha Gellhorn, one of the last century’s greatest war correspondents, ‘is a tough occupation.’ She believed that as citizens we are obliged to make our own informed opinion, and to stand by it. ‘The evils of the time change,’ she observed, ‘but are never in short supply and would go unchallenged unless there were conscientious people to say: not if I can help it.’ Dissent, based on morality and reason, is at the heart of what it means to be a citizen, in her view. and while the challenge of citizenship may be getting more difficult all of the time, there is nevertheless always room for optimism. ‘There has to be a better way to run the world,’ she insisted, ‘and we better see that we get it.’

Precisely what is meant by the word ‘citizenship’, especially with regard to certain avowed rights, obligations or responsibilities associated with it, is historically-specific and will vary dramatically from one national context to the next. in any given society this process of definition is never secured once and for all, of course, but rather is subject to the contradictions of power, especially as they are experienced, negotiated and resisted as part of everyday life. It is by exploring a range of pressing questions at this level, the very materiality of our lived engagement with citizenship, that Nick Stevenson’s Cultural Citizenship seeks to intervene in current debates. ‘Cultural citzenship’, he argues, is a newly emerging interdisciplinary concept that is concerned with issues of recognition and respect, of responsibility and pleasure, and with visibility and marginality. It encompasses politics with a capital and a small ‘p’, such that viewing a soap opera can be regarded as being just as political as voting in an election. At the same time, Stevenson contends, the concept of cultural citizenship is also concerned to search for a new ethics that can help guide us through these turbulent and contested times.

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