Cosmopolitan democracy and the EU: the case of gender

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Cosmopolitan democracy is one of the most debated models of transnational democracy. As a result of his prominence in this field, David Held has attracted much of the criticism and approval of this position. The critique and comment aimed at cosmopolitanism in general, and Held's work in particular, has provoked cosmopolitan advocates to respond, restate and develop their arguments. However, despite its considerable merit, this debate remains largely theoretical, and little has been done in terms of studying the realisation of cosmopolitanism in real-world settings. This article contributes towards the debate concerning the possibility of its actual application by mapping the principles of cosmopolitan democracy in relation to the EU polity and the issue of gender equality. It argues that the EU articulates certain cosmopolitan-comparable principles, and by studying areas where they are clearly exhibited, such as the issue of gender, that this helps us to critically evaluate their practicability and enables a response to criticisms levelled at cosmopolitan democracy. This article addresses two specific criticisms. Firstly, in view of the justiciable qualities of EU law, and its ability to give rise to formal individual rights, it is argued that claims regarding the inherently fictitious nature of cosmopolitan rights are unfounded. Secondly, while acknowledging that civic engagement takes a principally legal mode in relation to the issue of gender, this article rejects the claim that cosmopolitan democracy neglects the political aspects of citizenship. However, cosmopolitan scholars must extend their understanding of the relation between rights and the wider aspects of citizenship engagement, if they hope to realise the vision of an active citizenry that remains central to the cosmopolitan project.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-236
Number of pages22
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


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