Journal of Catalan Intellectual History, No 5 (2013)

Nationalism versus Cosmopolitanism: a comparative approach

Montserrat Guibernau


Nationalism and cosmopolitanism are often portrayed as radically opposed to each other and scholars defining themselves as ‘cosmopolitans’ tend to display a very critical attitude towards anything that includes the word ‘nationalism’ and/ or ‘national’. Being a nationalist is frequently regarded as an obstacle to adopting a cosmopolitan outlook, as being in direct opposition with it. Why is this so? Are there any particular circumstances
in which both cosmopolitanism and nationalism can coexist and be compatible? Or, on the contrary, are we faced with two irreconcilable ideologies? Following current debates on these issues, this paper offers a careful analysis of the specific conditions in which nationalism and cosmopolitanism might become compatible. The paper is divided into four sections. First, it considers the treatment of nationalism in classical social theory and offers a detailed analysis of the concepts of state, nation
and nationalism as well as the interrelations between the three. Second it introduces cosmopolitanism by studying its origins, development and key principles. Third, the paper adopts a comparative theoretical approach to establish a distinction between democratic and non- democratic forms of nationalism. To illustrate this it examines democratic Catalan nationalism, as exemplified by the Assembly of Catalonia (1971), as an opposition movement to Franco’s dictatorship which embodied both national as well as cosmopolitan concerns.

key words: Nationalism, cosmopolitanism, democracy, nation, Catalonia.

Full Text: PDF

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Design and layout are under copyright of Huygens
Editorial (Barcelona).

Print ISSN: 2014-1572   Online ISSN: 2014-1564 

Mailing Address

Institute of Law and Technology
Office B2/-125B
B Building - Facultat de Dret
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)
08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona)
TEL +34 93 581 22 35
FAX +34 93 581 29 88