The German sociologist endorses the role of cities and cosmopolitanism as a way of reinforcing the idea of citizenship and its role in constructing a shared future.
Shared Spaces recorded this conversation with the sociologist Ulrich Beck in January 2013 when he visited the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona to give a lecture titled “Europe” in the “In Common” series. In the interview, Beck upholds the role of cities and cosmopolitanism.
He also believes that cities are increasingly important because, first, they “have costs and problems but they also have experimental spaces where solutions may be found”. Second, they are closer to the everyday existence of people and therefore constitute a very important space for issues of democracy, climate change, the new forms of politics and new visions”. Beck emphasises that it is necessary to observe “how cities, and not only countries, relate with each other and can even generate new political visions”. He believes, accordingly, that the idea of citizenship will be reinforced, together with its role in the construction of a shared future.
Given his interest in a view of public space at the global level, it is not surprising, then, that his favourite public spaces are also the most cosmopolitan. In particular, he finds it interesting to observe how imprisoned public spaces, those of states or cities for example, change because of the cosmopolitan elements with which they interact.
He cites examples from the media with Internet publications in several languages, for example Germany’s Der Spiegel, Spain’s El País, and the British The Guardian. These make it possible for people who do not know the language of the state in question to gain access to discussions in Germany from Spain, for example, or vice versa. They also “allow a citizen to see himself or herself through the eyes of the other”.