Investigating the idea of cosmopolitan openness: strategies, repertoires and practices
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This paper forms a part of a larger project on people's attitudes towards globalisation which combines qualitative and quantitative data. The qualitative data was collected through focus groups, whereas the quantitative component builds on data available through set of questions on attitudes towards globalisation which were included into the recent Australian Election Study survey (Bean et al. 2004). This paper reports on the qualitative data. Despite diverse understandings of cosmopolitanism, most authors agree that cosmopolitans espouse a broadly defined disposition of 'openness' toward others, displayed in cultural, political or aesthetic domains. It is argued that such an attitude is expressed by an emotional and ethical commitment towards universalism, selflessness, wordliness and communitarianism. In this paper, we explore cosmopolitan dispositions through discussions with the participants of nine focus groups in Brisbane. The focus groups were organised around socio-economic, demographic and cultural characteristics of the participants. While the primary intention of the research was to explore people's attitudes towards globalisation, some dimensions of the study lent themselves directly to debates on cosmopolitanism. The participants saw themselves as conscious beneficiaries of an increasingly interconnected world and its economic and cultural prospects. They generally expressed cosmopolitan sentiments by referring to easily accepted opportunities associated with globalisation (eg. travel, foods, music) rather than the more difficult aspects of openness such as showing hospitality to strangers, or accepting human interest ahead of perceived national interests. This view was clearly counterbalanced, however, by sentiments of fear of 'dilution of culture' and 'culture loss'.
TASA 2005 Conference Proceedings
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