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Global Generations in World Risk Society

Author(s): Ulrich Beck

Journal: Revista CIDOB d'Afers Internacionals
ISSN 1133-6595

Issue: 82-83;
Start page: 19;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: Cosmopolitanism | risk society | sociology | generations | migrations | tradition | modernity

Does something called global generations exist? Do we need to adopt a cosmopolitan outlook to understand the generational dynamic? It was Karl Mannheim who first drew attention to the role of generations in historical change, and who highlighted the importance of traumatic historical events in the creation of a generational consciousness. A “cosmopolitan vision” means social sciences and humanities which get rid off “methodological nationalism” and take globality and human social life on planet Earth seriously. Cosmopolitan social science differs from universalist science in that it is not based on something supposedly general, but on global variability, global interconnection and global intercommunication. Cosmopolitan sociology doesn’t mean treating global generations as a single, universal generation with common symbols and a single consciousness. Rather, it conceptualises and analyses a multiplicity of global generations which appear as a set of interwoven futures. The relationships between these futures are no longer to be seen in terms of a polar star radiation from the North Atlantic segment of the globe, but as something in a wide spectrum of possible interactions of modernities.
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