Cosmopolitanism, the Clash of Civilizations and Multiple Modernities

Author: José Casanova

March 1, 2011

“Cosmopolitanism, the Clash of Civilizations and Multiple Modernities,” an article by Professor José Casanova, examines three alternative conceptions of the emerging global order referring to the place and role of religions. Cosmopolitanism builds upon developmental theories of modernization that envision a global expansion of Western modernity, with secularization a key analytical and normative component. Religions that resist privatization are viewed as threatening modernity. Huntington’s conception of the clash of civilizations maintains the components of Western modernity but stripped of any universalism; modernity is a particular achievement of the West grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The world religions are the vital core of essentially incompatible civilizations. The model of multiple modernities is presented as an alternative analytical framework that combines some of the universalist claims of cosmopolitanism, devoid of its secularist assumptions, with the recognition of the continuous relevance of the world religions for the emerging global order. This essay was published in the journal Current Sociology.

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