Towards cosmopolitan middle-range theorizing: A metamorphosis in the practice of social theory?

Current Sociology, SAGE Publications, ISSN 0011-3921

Volume 63, 1, 2015

DOI:10.1177/0011392114559952, Dimensions: pub.1044967665,




  1. (1) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU






Over the years, Ulrich Beck has established himself as an important sociologist due in large part to the imaginative and skillful way in which he has continuously added new conceptual bricks to his theoretical edifice and cosmopolitan vision. His work at the present juncture is no exception, spurred as it is by the urgency of responding to the global risks of climate change via reworking key categories of social theory. More strongly than existing notions of world risk society and second modernity, his new concept of metamorphosis (‘Verwandlung’) captures the way contemporary social upheavals imply a fundamental transformation in our very coordinates of social change, in the face of as-yet uncertain collective futures. Likewise, as Beck propounds in this issue of Current Sociology, the concept of emancipatory catastrophism starkly underlines the core moral ambiguity of global risks: (future) risk is not yet (present) catastrophe – and this very gap may lead to mobilizations and the emergence of new normative horizons of expectation. This text suggests the notion of cosmopolitan middle-range theorizing in order to capture the novel practice of social theory is contained, but so far insufficiently specified, in Beck’s project.

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