Review of International Studies

Cosmopolitanism: globalisation tamed?

David  Held  1

The processes, problems and dilemmas generated by globalisation shape new contours of politics. They delineate some of the starkest challenges faced in the contemporary era. The first half of this article maps some of these, focusing particularly on questions of governance. Exploring the changing circumstances of politics illuminates why nationalism and statism provide inadequate political resources to meet the problems posed by a more global age. In the second half of the article, cosmopolitanism is defended as a more relevant and appropriate way of framing politics today. Four cosmopolitan principles are set out and a strategy is elaborated for cosmopolitan institution-building. In the final section of the article, cosmopolitanism is defended against possible charges of utopianism, and it is argued that cosmopolitanism is a political project for the here and now – and just as pertinent as the theory of the modern state was when it was first promulgated in Leviathan.


1 This article is an adapted version of my E. H. Carr Memorial Lecture, presented at Aberystwyth on the 17th October 2002. I would like to thank Ken Booth and his colleagues for inviting me to present it, and for their generous hospitality. An early version of this article will appear in D. Held and M. Koenig-Archibugi (eds.), Globalization Tamed: Frontiers of Governance (Cambridge: Polity, forthcoming). It is printed here in substantially modified and extended form.