Mobility for Me but Not for Others: The Contradictory Cosmopolitan Practices of Contemporary White British Youth
This article seeks to problematise the perception that young people are committed cosmopolitans by highlighting some of the contradictory and contingent practices that young White British youth engage in. To do so, I explore a contradiction that emerged in my recent projects when young people talked about mobility and migration, namely how some White British youth want (and assume) freedom of movement for themselves but are opposed to freedom of movement when it involves immigrants coming to Britain. Here I argue that this can be viewed as an effort to enjoy the benefits of a cosmopolitan lifestyle (particularly through geographical mobility) while nonetheless wishing to limit opportunities for cultural Others to do likewise. This manifestation, I suggest, should be seen as a one-way form of cosmopolitanism that is not just contradictory, but also a reflection of the mixed messages young people in Britain receive about mobility, migration, multiculturalism, citizenship and individualism.