Reflexive Modernization and the End of the Nation State. On the Eclipse of the Political in Ulrich Beck's Cosmopolitanism

Ethical Perspectives 15 (3):343-367 (2008)
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The theory of reflexive modernization plausibly advocates postnational cosmopolitanism. As the nation state is eroding today, we are becoming citizens of a ‘global risk society’ whose unity and cohesion is generated by the risk that is threatening us world-wide. By the same token, this world risk society is no longer unified in any political sense. There is no world state; its very idea is even rejected. In this sense, the cosmopolitanism argued for in the theory of reflexive modernization proves predominantly to be an extrapolation of civil society on a global scale, while, strictly speaking, having no cosmo‘political’ counterpart. Building on Marcel Gauchet’s political philosophy, the article questions the cosmopolitanism-beyond-the-political position of the theory of reflexive modernization. To do so, it goes substantially into Gauchet’s view of the representational role of the political as an essential dimension in society formation



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